Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Deafhood and DBC

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Please note that I am speaking based on my personal views, not as a representative for DBC.

(pointing toward the tree): See my kids playing in the park while I get to do my vlog! It is my only time that I could do it. I would like to take the time to explain my views about Deafhood. Last year, I did not learn what Deafhood means but I know and live through it like you do. We all have our own different definitions and experiences to go through what is it like to live as a DEAF person. Of course, I always consider myself as human first and being DEAF is a part of our identity, part of our experience, and our lives going through the journey.

As you may know, I tend to study and analyze Deaf history that talks about oppressive-related issues and analyze my real life experiences and my family's, etc. Naturally, I am concerned about the issues raised today. It is 2008 and I still feel that we need to make this world a better place for DEAF children. The question is how. New ideas and new perspectives have been surfaced. Notice that Deafhood defines a process, like a journey to go through as a d/Deaf person and if you read the book, which I just started 2 weeks ago, it got me thinking. Even today, I did not have the opportunity to go to any Deafhood workshops and was never part of the training session or even having a thorough discussion relating to Deafhood alone. Yes, there were some times I questioned what specific terms/concepts mean and how are these related to our lives but that was it. Most of the time, it came from my views that I got to analyze and discovered heartbreaking stories that a lot of scars were involved for those people who find struggles and oppressions (dealing with Oralism) or whatever they experience throughout their lives.

What it dawned on me during the part of the DBC conference was that people shared what they had experienced in the past that was brought up by themselves. I have been listening to a variety of people who shared their disheartening stories about how they grew up being oralists (without the use of signs) all their lives that they found it negative and suppressing because they struggled to understand what was said and that their parents refused to let them sign. A lot of stories came up that weekend and these people cannot be ignored. We can't just say, "Ok, just focus on bilingualism only and ignore their feelings. Just focus on Deaf babies signing only!" But in reality, there are circumstances happening which are not intentionally for them to have flashbacks but because of the issue itself that promotes DEAF babies to sign made them recalling how they were deprived from bilingual experience. Grieving was involved for DEAF adults and it is something that should not be ignored.

It is natural to focus on the identity issues that will allow them feeling a sense of empowerment. A lot of diversified people who are involved came from grassroots with a variety of background, experiences, etc. Many and many people are affected by Oralism and unfortunately; it was not a positive word for them. I feel there is a need to address these issues but I didn't feel that there were enough discussions relating to Deafhood issues during the Conference anyway which was not the main objective. Most of the topics presented during the Conference were related to a variety of bilingual topics. There were some of the concepts presented that distinguished the differences between medical and cultural views and it was considered a healthy discussion that would help parents to identify and better understand what their DEAF child(ren) should be in that sense of pride leading to positive feelings as a part of their DEAF identity. I don't feel that there is anything wrong to hide or to avoid since these are underlying issues that need to be addressed and discussed. It is a part of healing process for them that they eventually can become better advocates for DEAF children.

As for the parents (unfortunately not many were there since it was a first conference but it will be expected in the future conferences) who watched discussions taking place about cultural issues vs. medical issues in one of these workshops, I feel that some of the "Deafhood" issues will help them to end the grieving process faster when they discover their baby or child is deaf. I didn't think or feel that there were a lot of in-depth discussions about Deafhood during the time of the conference. Most of the time, when looking at the six presenters, their topics presented ranging from linguistic issues to Early Hearing Detection Intervention and its system to history…(showing texts on presentation topics)…

These presentations made us more aware how the system works and how we can better improve and change it. I really feel very positive to discuss these topics that are shared to both DEAF and hearing people. I look forward for some of the hearing parents who attended to the DBC conference to post their experience explaining how much impact these related topics had made on them. They told us how they had gained a better understanding what it is like for a DEAF person to live through it.