Four Common Myths about Deaf People

Although most people would probably say they would rather be deaf than blind, studies show that deaf people represent the most isolated group of disabled individuals. Their ability to communicate is hindered by the fact that few hearing people know and understand sign language. Ideally, deaf students should have someone with them to interpret lecture material as it is spoken, and notetakers to record lecture material for future reference. But then again, deaf people can excel in many ways if only we hearing people learn to remove those common misconceptions about them.

Let’s explore a few myths:

Myth #1: ALL DEAF PEOPLE LACK THE ABILITY TO SPEAK.

Fact: Many deaf people have learned to use their voices in speech classes. They cannot, however, automatically control the tone and volume of their voices because they cannot hear themselves. Deaf individuals may have speech which is difficult, at first, to understand. Some deaf people are shy about speaking in public because of the negative reactions they have received.

Myth #2: ALL DEAF PEOPLE CAN READ LIPS.

Fact: All of us, to some extent, rely on lip reading to understand language. Even a practiced deaf listener can only understand 30-40% of spoken sounds by watching the lips of a speaker. Words such as “bump” and “pump” or “mama” and “papa” look the same on the lips. But all of them have totally different meanings. The ability to read lips varies among individuals. Although the most accurate mode of communication with deaf people is sign language, pencil and paper are appropriate substitutes. Keep in mind that your body language and facial expressions say a lot, too.

Myth #3: DEAF PEOPLE ARE NOT VERY BRIGHT BECAUSE THEY HAVE NOT LEARNED TO TALK OR USE GRAMMAR PROPERLY.

Fact: Because the basic form of communication with the deaf community is sign language, many deaf people have not mastered the grammatical fine points of their “second” language – English. This certainly does not indicate a lack of intelligence. Most deaf individuals do learn English usage and do have speech training, but they may find it easier to communicate in their “first” language.

Myth #4: DEAF PEOPLE CANNOT APPRECIATE ARTS AND CULTURES BECAUSE THEY CANNOT HEAR MUSIC, MOVIE DIALOGUES, ETC.

Fact: Anyone who has ever had the privilege to see a performance by the Silent Theater for the Deaf worldwide will realize the error in this myth. Throughout history, deaf people have participated in and contributed to the performing arts (Beethoven, for example). As long as there is rhythm and visual image, those with residual hearing and even those who are totally deaf can be valued patrons and performers of the arts.

Note:
I got this neat article while searching for some files in my computer. I thought it’ll be cool to share this with you. I forgot where I copied them. Sorry. I have added some of my own. 🙂

Apply for PWD IDs on October 25

The Archdiocese of Manila Office for Persons with Disabilities (AMOPDM) would like to invite Persons With Disabilities from: MAKATI, PASAY, MANDALUYONG and SAN JUAN to apply for PWD i.d.s/booklets on Sunday (October 25, 2009) at the Our Lady of Guadalupe Minor Seminary nr. Loyola chapels. Please proceed to the Legal Services Booth and submit the following requirements:

FOR MANDALUYONG CITY: (c/o Mr. Oca Arceo Tel. No. 534-0986 / 532-5001 loc. 308)

  1. 3 pcs. ID pictures (2” x 2”)
  2. 2 pcs. ID pictures (1” x 1”)
  3. Barangay Certificate
  4. Medical Certificate
  5. Voter’s I.D. Card/Certficate (If PWD is 18 years old and above: photocopy of Voter’s I.D.)
  6. (If PWD is below 18 years old, photocopy of Voter’s I.D. of the parents of PWD)

FOR PASAY CITY:

  1. 3 pcs. ID pictures (1” x 1”)
  2. Barangay Certificate
  3. Medical Certificate

FOR SAN JUAN CITY: (c/o Bro. Hermie Tel. No. 724-4934)

  1. 2 pcs. ID pictures (1” x 1”)
  2. Medical Certificate

FOR MAKATI CITY: (c/o Irene Pascual Tel. No. 899-9046)

  1. 4 pcs. ID pictures (1” x 1”)
  2. Barangay Certificate
  3. Medical Certficate
  4. Voter’s I.D. Card/Certification (If PWD is 18 years old and above: photocopy of Voter’s I.D.) (If PWD is below 18 years old, photocopy of Voter’s I.D. of the parents of PWD)

For further inquiries, please call Atty. Jessica Siquijor-Magbanua at Tel No.985-1082 or CP No.: 09285064837.

Cure for deafness soon a reality?

I got hold of this news article from BBC while I was doing some research on cochlear implants. This breakthrough technology is very promising. Although I may add this among my Christmas wish this December, I don’t think Santa Claus will grant me this one in the near future. Advanced Merry Christmas, everyone! 🙂

Stem Cell ‘deafness cure’ closer

Stem cells that could be used to restore hearing have been successfully created, scientists have said. A Sheffield University team took stem cells from foetuses and converted them into cells that behave like sensory hair cells in the human inner ear.

Their discovery could ultimately help those who have lost hair cells through noise damage and some people born with inherited hearing problems.

But any cure is still some years away, experts told the journal Stem Cell. The Sheffield team is now working on the next stage of the research to check if the cells can restore hearing.

This research is incredibly promising and opens up exciting possibilities
Dr Ralph Holme, RNID. Currently, hair cell damage is irreversible and causes hearing problems in some 10% of people worldwide.

Embryonic stem cells could change this because they have the unique ability to become any kind of human cell. Not only could they be used to replace the lost hair cells, but also any damaged nerve cells along which the signals generated by the hair cells are transmitted to the brain.

But the use of stem cells is controversial – opponents object on the grounds that it is unethical to destroy embryos in the name of science.
Lead researcher Dr Marcelo Rivolta, said: “The potential of stem cells is very exciting. We have now an experimental system to study genes and drugs in a human context.

“Moreover, these cells would help us to develop the technologies needed to deliver them into damaged tissues, such as the cochlea, in order to restore the different cell types.

“This should facilitate the development of a stem cell treatment for deafness.” Dr Ralph Holme, director of biomedical research at RNID, said: “Stem cell therapy for hearing loss is still some years away but this research is incredibly promising and opens up exciting possibilities by bringing us closer to restoring hearing in the future.”

Vivienne Michael of Deafness Research UK said: “This study highlights the importance of stem cell research. “In addition to the future potential for restoring hearing with stem cell therapy, the recent research success means that we may now have better ways to test the efficacy and toxicity of new drugs on auditory cells.”

Professor David McAlpine, director of the Ear Institute, University College London, said: “Is this the ultimate upgrade for the iPod generation?

“The possibility of regenerating the sensory cells of the inner ear, so easily damaged by exposure to loud sound, has just moved a step closer. “If scientists can find out ways to deliver new cells to the inner ear, and wire them up correctly, then “plug and play” hearing could be the future.”

Photo and article are copied from BBC Website.

Inclusive education, is it fit for the deaf?


These past two months, I was invited to attend two disability-related conferences. One was the three-day Philippine Community Based Rehabilitation Congress from August 25-27. The other one was the 1st National Disability Summit from September 24 – 25. Incidentally, both of them were held on the same place, the Manila Pavilion Hotel in UN Avenue. The National Council on Disability Affairs was the lead host on both events.

On both occasions, I was there only to listen to the various resource speakers, join the breakaway sessions and photograph the event. I have no intention of giving a piece of my mind. However, I was willingly assigned to assist in the presentation of our group during the first event. I was also unwillingly assigned to facilitate in the group’s proposals and present it on the plenary for the second event. I was also tasked to share my insight of the summit from the academic point of view.

On both conferences, there were NO DEAF PERSONS invited. Those were truly disappointing activities because among those sectors involved with disability, only the deaf people were not represented. I had to bring two of my deaf students on the next day so that they can at least be “SEEN”.

On both events, the term “INCLUSIVE EDUCATION” was tackled, rather violently on the first one, and a more subdued yet equally rancorous on the second one. The debate focused more on it’s definition, which was ambiguous as per every sector who defines it. An advocate for the blind group, a certain overstaying foreigner from up north (I don’t want increase his google search rank so I won’t mention his name here.), pounced his belief that the education sector must embrace inclusive education lock, stock and barrel. He claimed that Special Education teachers must be abolished. Instead they should be trained as specialized teachers. All teachers must become inclusive teachers. No more special classes for special children. His principles were met with serious resentments, some raised eyebrows from most participants.

I was also irritatingly surprised that another so called advocate on the rights of deaf persons for more than two decades, another foreigner (I wish these closed-minded foreigners with antiquated beliefs should stop meddling with our people and go home to their own countries.) and a man of God, asserts that deaf people in the Philippines have very poor abstract intelligence. He also stressed that most deaf are having difficulty understanding simple English instructions. Now, where did he get that impression? His assertions were highly derogatory and too judgmental. Probably those deaf people in his own world have low verbal ability. But I can categorically assert, not in my world!

After hearing those two foreign bodies force their own definition of inclusive education to the group aside from the many conflicting views from other participants, I was led to believe that there must be a more in-depth, multi-sectoral study on how it should or should not be implemented in the Philippines. Article 24 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD) says that the States Parties:

… recognize the right of persons with disabilities to education. With a view to realizing this right without discrimination and on the basis of equal opportunity, States Parties shall ensure an inclusive education system at all levels and life long learning directed to:

  1. The full development of human potential and sense of dignity and self-worth, and the strengthening of respect for human rights, fundamental freedoms and human diversity;
  2. The development by persons with disabilities of their personality, talents and creativity, as well as their mental and physical abilities, to their fullest potential;
  3. Enabling persons with disabilities to participate effectively in a free society.

While exercising the rights of disabled persons to inclusive education, it must also take appropriate measures to:

…Facilitate the learning of sign language and the promotion of the linguistic identity of the deaf community; Article 3 Section b.

Therefore, the United Nations clearly recognizes and supports the use of SIGN LANGUAGE and respects the IDENTITY and CULTURE of the Deaf Community. In this case, how can education be inclusive if the medium of instruction being used in classroom opposes with the language being used by the deaf?


A typical Philippine primary school uses the vernacular Filipino or Tagalog together with English. Since these are spoken languages, it won’t be difficult for us hearing people to fully understand them. Aside from that, these languages have been taught, learned and used as the hearing child’s first languages.

But a deaf person does not have a first spoken language. Sign language is primarily their “first” language. It is a non-spoken and visual language. It does not have a direct equivalent in either the English or Filipino language.

How do we reconcile these entirely different languages where a deaf child is exposed to? Should we “force” them to speak so that they can focus more on English? Or should we accept their sign language, understand it, learn from it, use it, adapt it and cultivate it?

This issue has been discussed and debated countless times with hearing people as protagonists. We have been dictating education to them since “education” was invented. Deaf education in the Philippines started more than 100 years ago. Has there been an improvement since then? Don’t we think it’s about time that the deaf people should be more involved in these discussions? It’s their rights that we’re securing, not ours. I hope that when the people from the government especially from the Department of Education start making in-depth discussions about inclusive education, they should at least give the deaf people a chance to be heard. I support the full participation of all persons with disabilities including the deaf groups in forming and planning framework on education curriculum and system for them.

Yay! My blog is a finalist again in Philippine Blog Awards!

For the second time, this blog is again one of the finalists! Last year, I belonged to the Commentary Category. This time, it’s a good thing they created a separate category for those blogs that advocate for a specific issue, concern or sector. They named it Advocacy Category. I believe my blog is more fitted here than with last year.

The Philippine Blog Awards Night will be held on October 9 at PETA Theater. After successful editions at RCBC (2006) and One Esplanade (2008), one of the biggest gathering of Filipino bloggers and netizens would be moving in to New Manila to culminate months’ worth of eager anticipation and over a year of quality blogging.

Last year, I volunteered for the event and made a special post on my experience. This year, I don’t think they called for volunteers. Similar to what I said last year, being nominated is already an honor. Winning is just the icing on the cake.  And I don’t expect to lick the icing. 🙂

Here are the finalists in my category. Is your favorite among the list?

Best Advocacy Blog

Autism Society Philippines

CyberRon

discourses of a free mind

Fide Quarens Intellectum

Filipino Deaf from the Eyes of a Hearing Person

Filipino Freethinkers

Foreclosure Philippines

Gloria Macapagal Arroyo RESIGN!

Greenpeace Southeast Asia

Nurses Notes

Congratulations to all the finalists!