Filed under: asperger's syndrome, autism, disability, Justice, Politics | Tags: asperger's, autism, British Sign Language, BSL, deafness, disability, Spitting The Dummy
I was watching “See Hear” on the BBC, it is an excellent program that should be broadcast all year without a break, but it isn’t, never mind. A couple of items caught my attention. The first was about the “Spit the Dummy” campaign to get British Sign Language recognised as an official British language and given equal weight with Gaelic and Welsh. BSL speakers, is that the correct term for people who communicate by gesture? Perhaps it should be because signing is every bit as valid a means of communication as speaking verbally. As I was saying BSL speakers want the same recognition and respect as the other languages of these Isles. It is ten years since Deaf activists got the government to recognise BSL, but without legislation to back up that recognition deaf people are still disadvantaged, even discriminated against in a society where spoken English is the norm to which we are expected to conform.
Why should I care, I’m not deaf? In the first place, discrimination is a matter of basic human rights. Secondly, while I am not deaf, I am acutely aware of how difficult it can be to communicate verbally, personally I think BSL signers make altogether too much eye contact, but I can appreciate how valuable it is as an alternative to spoken English, it is a language of these Isles and it’s “speakers” should have the same rights as any one else. For more information please refer to the articles at the end of this blog
I am not deaf, but I, like most people, to communicate. Gesture is natural to anyone with working hands it seems to me logical that we should all learn to sign, it is ultimately just structured gesture. My granddaughter is learning some signs in primary school, it seems sensible to teach signing alongside English, we just need to teach the teachers.
I an not deaf, I do not know what it is to be deaf. The other piece in the program that interested me was about a deaf student with a cochlear implant. At one point she talked about being able to retreat into silence. This resonated with me because as an autistic person subject to sensory processing problems and not infrequent overload I sometimes envy deaf people their silence; I would probably feel different if I had nothing but silence.
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