MIKE GULLIVER

Deaf geographies, and other worlds.

A euphemism…

An article published in The Rebuttal has caught my eye… for its use of a euphemism… I don’t know if “the Auditory Verbal (AV) approach” is exactly the same as Oralism… but it certainly sounds like it.

Note, not ‘oral’ – this is pretty clear from the AV approach to eradicating all exposure to non-oral communication. History suggests that until the choice of ‘oral’ or ‘sign’ became an all or nothing exclusive, then most DEAF people liked the idea of also being ‘oral’ and supported the idea that if DEAF people could learn to speak, then they should… certainly this was a widespread situation until about 1870 and even after that, many DEAF people believed that they could convince the Oralists to soften their approach to this end.

Note also, not ‘oralism’ (which I would define as a scientific and pedagogical approach that prefers hearing and speech as the best ways to educate deaf children)… oralism is (I think) forgiveable, if seriously misguided – it’s an informed stance that is only party informed and should… should be open to an unbiased discussion of the evidence. Actually… just for interest, a really good example of this exists at the 1905 ‘Free Congress’ in Liège, where some of the stalwarts of the 1880 Italian ‘oralist’ approach (Ferreri amongst others) actually converted to supporting sign language because of the evidence offered to them by the then DEAF community… But there’s no arguing with an AV ‘zealot’.

No… not ‘oralism’, but ‘Oralism’ (which I would define as the same as oralism, except that it’s based on nothing but imagination and fear of the Other)… History suggests that there are two kinds of this Oralism:

  • The first is a kind that is evidenced by philanthropists and educators of ‘the deaf’ from the early 19th century to the present day. It’s an approach that is much harder to constructively deconstruct (if I can put it like that) because it considers Deaf community evidence intrinsically invalid. It seeks to do the best possible for the deaf person… but only on hearing terms. It’s an approach that uses words like ‘sensible’ and ‘practical’, and that has swallowed the argument that scientific and educational experts are the only ones who really know anything worth knowing hook, line and sinker… Because it’s an approach that really, honestly wants the best for whoever is its philanthropic target, it’s somewhat open to challenge… but the best that often emerges is a grudging acknowledgement that ‘Deaf people get on OK amongst themselves’… swiftly followed by a ‘But… that’s not the real world’ which pitches the argument right back to the beginning.
  • The second, however, is entirely different and is demonstrated by organisations that purport to also want to ‘help’ deaf people… but that actually engage in this activity, predominantly for their own benefit. It’s an approach that is exemplified by the Clericalists at the 1900 Congress in Paris who deliberately disabled the DEAF delegates attending in order to reinforce their own control over the education of deaf children, and thereby ensure that they continued in existence within a largely secular state. I have quotes from the Fédération that emerged from this congress that show no interest whatsoever in any benefit that their work might have for DEAF people… they were simply concerned to survive, and used their purchase on the DEAF community to succeed in this. People like this are impossible to talk to, because they’re not interested in any evidence at all…

The Auditory-Verbalists that the Rebuttal talks about appear to be of the second type…

… unfortunately, as the article proves… it seems to still be a habit of stupid government to gift both types of Oralists with the recognition that they so crave, which simply reinforces them in their blindness and power.

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This entry was posted on June 3, 2010 by in DEAF and tagged , , , , , , .
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