MENTAL HEALTH CRISIS FACING DEAF GEORGIANS
- BLUE Epeachy News
Sent by john rena
WHY DOES THE DEAF COMMUNITY NOT LIKE BEING REFERRED TO AS A MINORITY WITH DISABILITY?
MENTAL HEALTH CRISIS FACING DEAF GEORGIANS..
By Frank James John Lala, Jr., Ph.D.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR; Keynote Speaker at the World Congress of the World Federation of the Deaf on Mental Health Issues (1999), CCAD Founder, 2013 Deaf Awareness Banquet Chairperson, and author of, âCounseling the Deaf Substance Abuserâ. Georgia Rehabilitation Counselor for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing.
NOTE: "deaf" to refer to a physical characteristic and "Deaf" to refer to cultural identity.
The topic of disability pertaining to the deaf is a controversial one. .....many Deaf persons do not consider themselves as "disabled".
To answer this question, let me refer to Dr. Allen E. Sussman's paper, "Characteristics of a well-adjusted Deaf person, or: The Art of Being a Healthy Deaf Person." in regard to "disability".
"For too long the field of deafness, including education, rehabilitation, psychology and mental health, has been preoccupied with what is wrong with deaf people rather than what is right with them. Authorities and experts in the field are experts in what's wrong with them, but their experience in what's right with them appears to be lacking. This pathological view is perpetuated by the same experts and authorities, many of whom are not able to communicate meaningfully with deaf children and adults.
Moreover, the psychopathological perspective is rampantly manifested in the literature on deafness, especially in psychosocial aspects of deafness. There are several book chapters and professional journal articles and almost all are pathologically oriented, dwelling on the problems and liabilities from language deficiency to behavior disorders. The focus is on the capital D's such as:
DISABILITY, DYSFUNCTION, DEFICIENCT AND DEVIANCE
Most "Psychology of Deafness" and related courses in graduate training programs are also pathologically oriented, depicting deaf children and adults in largely unfavorable light, further contributing to this distortion and imbalance. The emphasis, again, is on what they cannot do rather than on what they can do; the emphasis is on liability rather than assets which many deaf people possess in overwhelming abundance."
I'd recommend Dr. Harlan Lane's, who was my doctoral dissertation advisor/mentor, book - "The Mask of Benevolence: Disabling the Deaf Community".
Dr. Harlan Lane presents a strong and eloquent case in that professionals, in their efforts to "rehabilitate" the deaf child and to "alleviate" the effects of deafness, actually exacerbate the deaf child's disability, rendering him/her more handicapped - a classical case of the "cure" being worse than the "disease". This approach limits the parents' ability to cope with their child's deafness and their options by making child's deafness a much bigger issue in their lives than it should be, rather than focusing on their own abilities, overall needs of the family. The typical result is a language-delayed deaf child with a confused identity and poor self-concept, less confident about functioning in a hearing world.
The consequences: Deaf students leave school with an average of Grade 3 - 4 reading levels, and most are unable to access higher education and meaningful employment. We come to the crux of the matter: does deafness in itself constitute a disability or does the response of (Hearing) society to deafness disable the deaf individual?
THE PROBLEM IS NOT THAT THE DEAF STUDENTS DO NOT HEAR. THE PROBLEM IS THAT THE HEARING WORLD DOES NOT LISTEN.
By Rev. Jesse Jackson
THE DEAF ARE AN OPPRESSED MINORITY. THE HEARING ARE THE OPPRESSORS.
HISTORICALLY, ANY TIME THE DEAF COMMUNITY HAS ANYTHING TO SAY ABOUT ITSELF, IT IS SUMMARILY IGNORED. THAT HAS BEEN TRUE FOR OVER TWO HUNDRED YEARS IN WESTERNIZED SOCIETY.
In US society are basically controlled by those in authority, namely the Hearing majority culture. This results in inequalities in regard to Deaf people, since access to social, education, and economic success is controlled by a culture with an ideology that tends to consider Deaf people as inferior.
Let me share summarily Roger Carver's article.
"THE ATTITUDES TOWARDS THE DEAF: A HISTORICAL OVERVIEW" by Roger J. Carver, M.Ed.
** Carverâs âAttitudes toward the Deaf: a historical overviewâ cites early recorded references to Deaf people and how they were treated. To people familiar with the history of the Deaf, these references are familiar, with examples from Greek, Roman and ancient Hebrew cultures. Carver believes that historical precedent in the treatment of Deaf people has a profound effect today, revealed in attitudes of hearing people toward Deaf people. Carver says our multi-cultural society is beginning to appreciate diversity and to respect minority groups and their rights, but he concludes that only through hearing peopleâs
acceptance of Deaf peopleâs perceptions about their lives can the larger society heal the breach between the two groups.
** Carverâs article alludes to a running timeline of treatment of the Deaf by the hearing people, but does not analyze any of the cited instances. No statement is made regarding how representative the chosen allusions are, but they are presumed to be typical.
Those born deaf were not allowed to own property or conduct major business transactions. They also were neither liable nor punished for any damage or injury they incurred.
Those born deaf were considered "non-persons" in Greek society and rejected by parents as their legitimate children. Killing of deaf and other disabled babies was a common practice. Aristotle was quoted as saying that those born deaf "become senseless and incapable of reasoning".
Roman law specified that those born deaf had no legal rights or obligations and were forbidden to marry in addition to being required to have guardians to look after them. Those who became deaf after having developed speech were allowed to enjoy full legal rights.
Early Christian Church
St. Augustine (354-430 A.D.) taught that the deaf are excluded from salvation on the grounds that they cannot hear the Word of God, citing St. Paul: "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing the Word of God (Romans 10:17). St. Augustine also taught that handicapped children were the results of the "sins" of their parents.
The International Congress on Education of the Deaf, which met in Milan, Italy, over the protests of many Deaf and Hearing educators, rammed through a resolution endorsing the oral method in deaf education worldwide, ushering in a new "Dark Age" in the history of the Deaf which saw hundreds of Deaf teachers fired from their jobs and an overall decline in the quality of deaf education
United States, Early 20th Century
Alexander Graham Bell, calling the deaf "a defective variety of the human race," begins a crusade to destroy sign language and to push for laws forbidding marriage between deaf persons and requiring compulsory sterilization of deaf girls in the name of "eugenics." Some states passed such legislation.
THE DEAF CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT IS DEDICATED TO FIGHTING THIS KIND OF OPPRESSION AND RAISING AWARENESS OF DEAF HISTORY AND DEAF CULTURE WITHIN THE DEAF COMMUNITY.
REVIEW OF LITERATURE
Controlling deaf schools and other programs that serve deaf people
Forbidding sign language in deaf schools and programs, and corrupting sign language into unnatural imitations of English
Focusing obsessively on speech and speech reading to the exclusion of academic subjects.
Imposing hearing aids on students who do not want them.
Forcing surgical procedures on deaf children who cannot consent.
Mainstreaming deaf children, resulting in isolation from peers and deaf adults.
Delaying 20 years from recognition of sign language as true languages to accepting them broadly for instructing deaf children (1960 - 1980).
Drawing erroneous and damning conclusions from inappropriate psychological testing.
Diagnosing deaf people as mentally retarded, autistic, or schizophrenic, and allowing them to languish in institutions.
Holding a medical conception of what it means to be deaf---deafness as a pathology, a handicap, and a tragedy---and therefore believing that deaf people need to be âfixed.â
Believing that deaf people are disabled not just in being unable to hear, but intellectually, emotionally, and morally.
Promoting the idea of the psychology of deafness, that deaf people are unintelligent, egocentric, paranoid, and so on.
Actively discriminating against deaf people in hiring and promotion.
Showing paternalism, pity, and contempt toward deaf people.
Excluding of the Deaf community from decision making on key matters, such as educational policies and medical procedures that pertain to the deaf people.
BUT THE ABSOLUTE CORE OF OPPRESSION OF DEAF PEOPLE, AS I HAVE COME TO UNDERSTAND FROM THEIR STORIES, IS:
DISEMPOWERING THEM AROUND COMMUNICATION RESULTING IN COMMUNICATION ISOLATION.
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