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BLIND SPOT: Deafness, Awareness and Fairness

How aware are you of deafness? Not all persons with hearing impairment are totally deaf. Not all persons with hearing impairment can not speak. Not all persons with hearing impairment use sign language. Not all persons with hearing impairment lipread. Increasing the sound volume would not make a person with hearing impairment hear sound better. Persons with hearing impairment still appreciate music. Hearing aids and cochlear implants do not restore hearing to normal state. Persons with hearing impairment do not have intellectual limitations. (,, As with other disabling conditions, hearing impairment is a spectrum; which means a person with hearing impairment could have profound to mild hearing impairment, depending on the personal level of hearing loss; which further means you hearing people should take extra precaution in assuming that when you’re talking about a person with hearing impairment in close proximity, he/she totally couldn’t hear you. For all you know, that same person could be getting some sense of what you’re blabbering about by lip reading. In fact, included in this sector are persons who are considered “hard of hearing” who may have considerably less hearing loss. Some persons with hearing impairment still manage to articulate oral communication. Yes, even without hearing the sounds as clearly as you do. Persons with hearing impairment are not born with the ability to communicate with sign language; which means some of them may not converse with it or much of it. Sign language may come in the forms of American Sign Language or Filipino Sign Language (which is entangled with their own issues); but either way, this form of communication does not follow the same rudiments of conventional oral and written language, so don’t you be all laughing your feet up when you receive a text message from a person with hearing impairment which you think is in “wrong grammar”. He/she’s using a different language; and he/she’s not the one displaying ignorance. And don’t bother shouting or raising your voice in the disillusioned intentions that you could be understood better; just play it cool and interact as you would with a hearing person. Why are we talking about this anyway? Deaf Awareness Week is from November 10 to 16 as per Proclamation No. 829 declaring the said period of every year as Deafness Awareness Week, as signed by former President Corazon Aquino in 1991, recognizing the deaf, as “a vital segment of our society” who “can be transformed into a significant force in the efforts for national development”; and nothing much said more than that. In an exchange of text messages with the Camarines Sur National High School SPED coordinator, I remember him sending a message that goes, “interpreter badly needed”, referring to the alarming lack of sign language interpreters in high school classrooms in which students with hearing impairment are included. A sign language interpreter would jump from classroom to classroom to accommodate all students with hearing impairment; and that leaves a lengthy time for one non-hearing student without an interpreter in class. Perhaps, a solution would be for regular teachers to receive training in sign language. . And shall we talk about bullying? It is one thing to have limited auditory faculties, or have normal hearing and suffer from diminished awareness. It is another thing to evade hearing, and ignore awareness. Heads of Southeast Asian nations with the special participation of the European Council, South Korean and United States Presidents, the Australian, Canadian, Indian, Japanese , New Zealand and Russian Prime Ministers, and the Chinese Premier are all causing traffic blockades and re-routing and non-working holidays in MetroManila. (Whoa! An all-star cast) However, there are certain elephants in the room which seem to be relegated to the level of “unheard of” or “unaware of”. The players seem to simply wear deaf ears on the issue of South China Sea territorial disputes which in case you’re not aware of, bothers not just the Philippines, but also Vietnam and Japan. How could anyone even whisper about that with big guy China around? The participants seem to play “unaware” of the overwhelming issues on local human rights violations and our very own President’s tasteless and undiplomatic interactions with the United States, the European Union, and the United Nations. Rohinja Muslims are being systematically forced out of Myanmar and Bangladesh understandably reluctant in accepting them. It’s already escalating into a genocide there; and we’re not talking about that. And how is President Donald Trump going to promote his America First policies in our own neighborhood? His discrimination bordering populism must make any non-American uneasy. So would considerably Muslim Southeast Asia just play mum in his anti-Islamic rhetoric? Oh, Life is a circus, Charlie Brown. “But Jesus, aware of this, withdrew from there. Many followed Him, and He healed them all,” Matthew 12:15

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