ASL and Deaf: Human Right

A human right is language built over and over again, continuously flexing through the natural process, through time and in response to nature’s demand for variety.  Even if Darwin says “survival of the fittest” does not always mean the strong will survive; it is how we adapt to nature. nlpsl

I read Deaf Life’s most recent issue (May 2013) talking about Audism, defining it and how it is applied in comparison to other ‘isms’ that are popular.  I have to admit how defeatist I felt after reading the introduction to the Audism article. The constant bombardment of how significant cochlear implants are to the value of spoken and listening aspect of the majority.  I felt sick, my self-esteem was battered and a part of me was infuriated. Editor Matthew Moore did a great job placing various excerpts of articles from across the world as an introduction to the article.  It drives a point towards the battle of technology, language, education and resources that readers should begin to understand.

Why Audism? Why does the attitude of which technology trumps humanity perseveres in today’s society?

I have read other blogs and sources. Even those written by deaf people who came from deaf families, willingly call themselves disabled in the face of increasing pressure further ensured by individuals and organizations propagandizing the value of speaking and listening.

I have said time and again, it does not matter if a deaf person signs, speaks or listens with his/her eyes or ears. I will emphasize again, cochlear implant is a tool, simply that.

I have read countless parents, professionals and monologists spout that ASL is not a language or a linguistic right for deaf people. We have Karl White, while maybe a nice person, perhaps misguided tell the public at conferences that deaf adults do not know how to raise deaf children; therefore, they should not be a part of a deaf child’s life.

When it comes to ratifying The Convention of the Rights for People with Disabilities, you have people sending letters to Senators that adding sign language to the roster of protected languages as human rights removes the right of the deaf child to have access to spoken language.  This is not true. Advocating solely for spoken language removes the right for a deaf child to have an access to a natural language, in most cases, sign language. In other ways, advocating for monolingual avenues, rather than bilingual avenues which have from time to time and again proven to be an effective process for human cognitive development, whether it is spoken (European/Asian/African), signed or both.

American Sign Language, along with its sibling sign languages, no matter how far off the branch of the tree they are from each other, are natural languages, that do not need to be a ‘right’ but an obligation to the human race to preserve and use, regardless the use of technology or not.

Nicaragua2008 102

(c)Nicaragua Sign Language Project

The fact that there are people who cannot hear, in the long history of human biology, more than a millennia and two, enables the human quality of creation, a natural process and a natural way of solving problems.  Language in itself is a tool, a resource and is continuously flexing its muscles as we progress or march along in history.  Sign language is nature’s way of responding to change, creating something out of nothing as evidenced through various locations such as the El Sayyed tribes and Nicaragua.  When we lose something, how we react to the loss tells nature how we will progress and how our societies or rather social structures will design itself.  Nothing is truly ever permanent.

As we get older, we may not like change; however, it is always present. Change must take place; however, how we approach change and our attitudes, which reflect our view on that change, can tell us a whole lot more than one can think or consider. As technology remains among us, we will have to accept that it will remain; however, one day down the road, whether it is in our lifetime or subsequent generations, the technology may not exist at all.

Why deny a human being a right to natural languages because the human happens to ‘deviate’ from the ‘norms’ of society?  Why deny and place a struggle upon a small human being who deserves every morsel available?  Change is necessary; it opens our eyes to a world bigger than ours. It is natural for people to gravitate towards those who are like themselves; the question you should ask yourself in the process…

…are you willing to step outside of your personal, professional and educational boundaries and see a natural picture that is larger than self?

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