Dispelling Myths vs Reimaging

2018-03-06_13-24-11.pngYesterday’s post was all about spin and how we too often try to reimage something because makes us uncomfortable.  It was primarily about the fact that we need to dispell the myth instead of just re-naming the condition.  Today I want to talk about why this topic is so important to me.

As I have often said, being deaf is a major part of my life but it is not what I am about.  I almost never say I am a deaf man but instead say I am a man who is deaf. There is a critical difference between the two. If I allow my deafness to define my life then what I am doing is to make it the central focus. Instead, I will define myself as:

  • A follower of Jesus
  • A creative person
  • A history buff
  • A person who enjoys adventurous things
  • An avid writer/blogger
  • An avid photographer
  • A teacher of coping with challenging circumstances

Somewhere far down the line would be deafness. In the area of deafness, I strive to teach others who might be just starting their journey that they are not alone and that their deafness does not have to define them or limit them to any extent.  Yes, it places challenges in their life but nothing that can’t be overcome.

I don’t think things have changed that much when it comes to medical authorities giving a person who is suddenly deaf, resources to cope. The hearing professionals in my day simply said: “We can’t help you anymore so, goodbye”.  I was left on my own to figure out where to go from there.

2018-03-06_13-27-06.pngAnother reason I am generally against reimaging is Google. If I want to learn something about this topic would I google “deaf” or “sudden loss of hearing”? I don’t think there is any disagreement as to that answer.  When I went deaf in 1988 the Internet was in its infancy. There were no major news sites and Google was decades away.  America-On-Line (AOL) was just starting out. I struggled for weeks trying to find anything I could use to help me cope with becoming deaf.

Now with the Internet, if I know the right terms and they haven’t been reimaged I can find a myriad of sources of information about any topic.  I hope that there are some who google “deaf” that happen to be pointed to RJsCorner and learn a little from my experiences with deafness.   Most importantly, I hope they learn that they are not alone out there. I struggled with that cruel idea for quite some time!

Closing up this two-part post, we need to do whatever we can to dispell myths that have grown up around too many topics. We can’t let just give into myths and let them stand as somehow being insurmountable. Dispelling myths is an underlying reason for RJsCorner even if I don’t directly say that enough.

 

 

Reimaging, Spin, Spin, Spin

Too many times we simply don’t like the name for something and to fix that we give it a new often indistinguishable name. Don’t like the word retirement, give it a new name. Give it a more positive spin. Call it the third trimester of life. Maybe that will offset the negative connotations associated with this time in life. Spin, spin, spin…

On a lighter side, job titles seem to be at the head of the reimaging wave. So many people have impressive sounding titles for the same old jobs. I have come to the conclusion that employers know that reimaging job descriptions is less expensive than paying more money for the work. Let’s look at a few:

Transparency Enhancement Facilitator – used to be called window washers.

Director of First Impressions – used to be called receptionists.

Beverage Dissemination Specialist – used to be called the bartender

Field Nourishment Consultant – used to be called waiters

Asset Financial Analyst – used to be called accountants

Spin, spin, spin…

2018-03-06_11-16-45.pngFinally, getting serious and to the main point of this post, one of the possible reasons for reimaging is that the current name has too many myths going against it. One of those I am intimately familiar with is “deaf”. Too many people still think “deaf and dumb” when it comes to anyone who has lost or never had the ability to hear.  Yes, there is a small percentage of this population who never manage to become accomplished at reading, writing, or speaking. A significant majority of that particular group were born deaf to deaf parents and were never encouraged to move beyond their deafness, in fact, many celebrate it!

There are about 46 million people in the US who have serious or profound difficulty understanding the spoken word.  About 35 million (80%) of those are or could be helped to one degree or another with hearing aids, cochlear implants, and other technological devices. But what about the other 12 million or so?

About 6.5 million (54%) are senior citizens who have lost their hearing due to aging factors.

About 5 million (42%) are people, like me, who lost their hearing as adults or at least after they became accomplished in the spoken word.

The last 0.5 million are people who were born deaf or became deaf at an early age. Of that group, about 0.1 million never learned to read, write, or speak beyond the fourth-grade level. In the past being born deaf was often due to oxygen tents and other medical procedures. Those mistakes have almost disappeared today and so has the born-deaf population.

Summarizing, the vast majority of the deaf population are anything but dumb. Many are college graduates and almost all have lead productive lives.

Instead of inventing new names for that 98% of the current deaf population we should all, especially those of us who are deaf,  be educating those who are “dumb” on this subject.

If I weren’t out of room on this post I could make the same argument for those with autism. Instead of reimaging the word, the general public needs to be better educated on the subject.

Tomorrow I will talk more about why the topic of labels is so sensitive to me.

Circle Of Life…

We went to Disney World in the Spring of 2016 for our 30th wedding anniversary. At least for me, it was a very memorable experience.  My wife took the idea that Disney World was for kids and was therefore determined to not have a good time.  Unfortunately, for the most part, she accomplished that. But that is another story I guess.
We spent five days at a Disney resort and visited all the parks, or at least I did. One of the most memorable events I went to was “Lion King”. The production was way beyond anything I had imagined.  Being deaf the songs didn’t come through but the atmosphere was almost overwhelming even without the music and words.
It was not until almost a year later that I came across the premiere song “Circle of Life”. Here is a portion of the lyrics:
From the day we arrive on the planet
And blinking, step into the Sun
There’s more to be seen than can ever be seen
More to do than can ever be done
Some say eat or be eaten
Some say live and let live
But all are agreed as they join the stampede
You should never take more than you give
The song was written by Elton John and has become very famous. The Broadway play is now entering its twentieth year and has generated more revenue than all the Star Wars movies combined.  I particularly like the words “You should never take more than you give”.  That should be a guiding principle in all our lives.
My brain no longer recognizes the sound of musical instruments and most songs I remember are mainly just words and cadence but that is enough to have an impact on my life. I still cling to the folk songs of my youth, or at least the words and memories.
To close out this post I want to give you a gallery of some of the pictures I took of the Disney World version of Lion King.
As usual click on any image to see a larger slideshow view. 

What’s It Feel Like For a White Man To Be A Minority??

canstockphoto22042668.jpgI know one of the reasons that we have the current incompetent in the White House is that too many white men are afraid of becoming a minority.  They are afraid of what will happen when their say is no longer the dominant one but instead one of many. For the most part white men have been dismissing minorities for decades and don’t want that to happen to them. They are afraid of many things but this is probably one of the major ones.

If none of the clues on RJsCorner have given you a hint then I will bluntly say I am a white man.  But I am a white man who has been in the minority most of my life.  I know what it means to be discounted in one form or another. I know what it means to be ignored.

Social Situations – All my life I have had characteristics of Asperger’s Syndrome which is part of the Autism Spectrum. Since early age I have had difficulties with social situations that most just take for granted. It was always difficult for me to form friendships especially with females. I just couldn’t, and probably still don’t, understand what they want from a relationship.  Even friendships with other guys has been difficult. I simply can’t do eye contact so that makes me suspect to many first time acquaintances. I have always been a minority when it comes to social situations.

Being Deaf – I have been significantly hearing impaired since my teenage years and completely deaf for the last thirty years.  That puts me in about 1% of the population and thus a minority. I struggle on a daily basis against all the deaf stereotypes.  You would be surprised just how many people still believe in the “Deaf and Dumb” thing! Many basically tell me to go away instead of trying to accommodate me in any fashion.  In the old days I used to ask them to write me a note, but most won’t even consider that. I have always been a minority because of hearing loss.

I am an Independent Thinker – I frequently get into trouble because of this.  I was kicked out of a church for saying what I am sure 80% of the congregation thought. I questioned the “profession of faith”, that is those things I am supposed to believe without any real evidence to prove them. I am “Blue in a Red State” and that makes me a definite minority.  Being an independent thinker I am driven by logic in a very illogical world. Being an independent thinker makes me a minority.

As a result of all these things I don’t fear being in a minority. I am not afraid of the barbarians at the gate as I am one of them.  To all my friends out there I want to tell you that being a minority in some ways is a very freeing thing. It helps you relate to all those you once feared. It gives you an additional dose of empathy. It makes you a better Christian if that is your flavor of spirituality.

Happily join us and that alone will relieve much of the stress in your life…

 

About Deafness — Chapter 92

I realized that it has been quite some time since I put out a post primarily about deafness. But the title of “chapter 92” is kind of made up.  🙂  This particular chapter is the result of an episode on the CBS News – Sunday Morning about being in an anechoic chamber. First off the program mentioned is not really about “news” but more of like On the Road with Charles Kuralt but with Indiana’s own Jane PauleyNow I know I am dating myself with this reference but for those of you who don’t know about “On The Road..” check it out on Wikipedia.

2017-02-12_10-01-21.pngGetting back to the anechoic chamber story, it was about a couple of guys who were amazed at the experience of sitting an anechoic chamber.  I have some personal experience with this as I rather frequently used a chamber in my early engineering years. I was hearing, at least to some degree, at that time and agree that is it a unique experience. An anechoic chamber basically stops all ambient noise.

Anyway the guys mentioned that they could hear each other’s breath and even when they moved their eyebrows.  I kind of doubt the eyebrow comment but they said this was an experience they have never had before.  That got me to thinking that I have been in an anechoic chamber for almost thirty years now, but not really.

To explain that a little further, I am plagued with tinnitus which is ringing in my ears. For me is it two frequencies overlapping each other. One is a low rumble and the other is a whistle type sound. They are constantly in my head.  Thank heavens that my brain is able to just ignore them most of the time but not always, especially when  I think of them as I am now. The roar would probably drive a hearing person to insanity. They say that Van Gogh suffered from tinnitus and that is the reason he cut off his hear.  I don’t know about that but it is an interesting story 🙂

I was hearing impaired most of my life and knew that one day I would go deaf. Luckily that day didn’t come until I was about forty.  I remember in my hearing aid days wondering what it would be like to not be able to hear anything. I once even tried to simulate it by keeping my head under water in the bathtub but then I could still hear the lower frequency sounds of the water and the tub so that just didn’t work.

It turns out that as is often the case it is not possible to simulate total deafness except in an anechoic chamber and even then you can hear yourself breathe.  One of the things that Helen Keller said when someone asked her which sense she would like to have the most either hearing or sight.  She said hearing as that is what keeps you attached to people. That kind of surprised me as I would have chosen sight but their is certainly a lot of truth in her words. being deaf is not for sissies…

 

 

Stop Using Sign Language Interpreters…

IMG_0542-crop.pngThe title above may seem strange coming from a deaf man but I really do think we have to stop using sign language interpreters for public announcements.  Its time to move on to better ways. Way better ways…

The facts show us that the ASL interpreters who are often behind a public official announcing something is understood by less that 20% of the people who are deaf and less than 2% of those who have hearing impairments.  But there is a technology that is understood by probably 90%+ of that population. That technology is captioning.  It is cheap, it is reliable and most of all serves the vast majority of those of us who are deaf/hearing impaired.  Here are some facts to back up these numbers:

The Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP) is one of a few national surveys that regularly collects data identifying the American population of persons with hearing loss or deafness. Estimates from the SIPP indicate that fewer than 1 in 20 Americans are currently deaf or hard of hearing. In round numbers, nearly 10,000,000 persons are hard of hearing and close to 1,000,000 are functionally deaf. More than half of all persons with hearing loss or deafness are 65 years or older and less than 4% are under 18 years of age….

Source: How Many Deaf People Are There in the United States? Estimates From the Survey of Income and Program Participation

More than half the folks who are deaf went deaf as a result of the aging process and know very little or nothing about any type of sign language. I have been deaf for about 30 years now and have become quite proficient in understanding signed English, at least me and my wife’s version. ASL is just beyond my comprehension. One of the problems with ASL is that it is not an English type language in syntax and many adjectives are facial expressions instead of signed  words. Depending on the interpreter there can be many different ways to sign the same thing. Some, who do use ASL, sign it one way some another. Let’s quit pretending that an ASL interpreter satisfies the needs of the deaf/ hearing impaired community and move on to providing captions through a monitor to vastly increase the reach to this population.