Networks' tepid summer: Diminishing audience for reality shows

Communicating In Sign
Digital Hearing Aids
Image by Earthworm
I met a woman some years ago who also wore hearing aids and when she noticed that I had them on too, she asked if I knew sign language. "Not that bad," I said, which pretty much summed up my hearing minded attitude. I didn’t want to draw attention to this disability because it isn’t a disability to me. It meant a lot more peace and quiet than most people enjoy. And I am only moderately hard of hearing with a loss of 50 decibels. I still miss a lot and make things up, but if I’m facing the speaker I can hear fine. Otherwise I’m one of those annoying "thoughtyousaiders". I repeat stuff back to people that isn’t what they said at all. This amuses me, but not usually the speaker.

I was diagnosed as hard of hearing when I was first tested at 10 years old. No particular cause except possibly hereditary since my great aunt was hard of hearing and wore one of those big hunking hearing aids strapped to her bra. I didn’t get hearing aids until much later because they weren’t worth wearing before the late 80s—they sounded like a bad transistor radio. They now make them digital which is a huge improvement, but they are still uncomfortable to wear so I only wear them for movies, TV and meetings.

It occurred to me when I decided to "come out" about being hard of hearing that earthworms don’t have ears and how interesting that was that I never thought about it before when choosing this nickname.

Seeing sign performed has changed my mind about signing, especially watching Marlee Matlin sign in her portrayal of Jodi, a new character on The L Word. She made it look totally cool, more so than in Children of a Lesser God, because she also speaks and is not characterized as a victim of a disability. She made it clear that she is bilingual and as a bilingual person myself, to be able to "speak" both your languages touches something that has always been missing for me.

This is the fourth book I’ve looked through on learning sign and the best one so far because it tells how each sign was derived and talks a lot about Deaf Culture. Of course, the moment I learned that there was a whole subculture that was a misunderstood minority, I wanted to be a part of it. I already knew that signing was considered an inferior form of communication for the deaf according to Alexander Graham Bell whose wife was deaf and who advocated teaching the deaf to lip read. I bought his argument and this was the reason I steered clear of signing before. I always figured that by the time I was really deaf, I would be able to lip read. Well it ain’t so. Lip reading only picks up the words that don’t disappear to the back of your throat. The whole struggle of the Deaf has been to reclaim sign language as a legitimate language and studies have shown that deaf babies will babble in sign language during the language learning stages. Because of Mr. Bell’s campaign, signing was forbidden in deaf schools until the Deaf got together and rebelled. Any time I find out that some entity is trying to forbid people from doing something, my queer consciousness kicks in and I want to join in the struggle. (The electric car campaign triggered it too.) Sign language is now the third most used language in the US after English and Spanish.

Networks' tepid summer: Diminishing audience for reality shows
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