Quiet-List 1997

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Re: Sound, hearing, and strange reactions

You asked:
> Two things I've noticed:.....
> ....Maybe there's a connection between these two types of reaction?<
I forwarded your e-mail to a friend of mine who has learned the deaf's sign
language in order to help them in the computer and other fields and he
comments as follows:

Yes, I have sensed this.  But I would even go a step further.  Deaf
people (and under the term "deaf" I would include all hard of hearing or
any hearing impaired individuals) are frequently viewed by others as
being mentally deficient.  Blind people are not normally viewed that way; 
in fact they are admired for their achievements.  People in wheel chairs
are cheered for their accomplishments.  Both of these disabled groups
are included in affirmative action programmes.  But boy, do you battle to
get a company to employ a deaf person!  As a shoemaker, or a brick
layer or a labourer, maybe;  but in any position where you are required to
use brain power, forget about it.  The term "deaf and dumb" probably
sums up the attitude that people have towards the deaf.  Of course, the
correct term is "deaf and mute",  but the "dumb" bit has stuck.

I therefore fully agree with the notion that many people have an attitude
of non-tolerance towards the deaf.  Of course, the deaf do find it more
difficult to adapt to their disability than other disabled ones.  The
for this has a lot to do with communication.  Not being able to hear, and
the case of mute ones, not being able to talk, place a tremendous barrier
in communication.  One sees that blind and other disabled people find it
much easier to adapt.  Why?  Because they can still communicate.  They
can still be comforted by the warm, human voice.  But the deaf are cut
off from that.  Yes, they can read (sometimes), we can teach them sign
language or teach them to lip read, but these things are rather clinical
compared to communication via speech.  So they are often lonely and
frustrated, adding to the label of "difficult".

But this leads us to an interesting observation.  If it is so that a lack
hearing affects our communication ability, and our communication ability
affects our personality, could we not then conclude that anything that
interferes with our hearing process would necessarily have an impact
on our personality.  Is that not one of the more subtle problems caused
by noise?  Noise must affect our communication process.  Often you
cannot hear yourself speak (neither can others).  Even though it may be
temporarily, I would think that it has the same psychological impact as the
deafness of a deaf person.  At least for a while, you cannot
communicate.  This frustrates you.  You start shouting.   Not only to be
heard, but out of frustration.  Your personality, as well as your
relationship with others, must be affected, particularly if this type of
interference takes place on a regular basis.

This leads to another question.  If our young people go to their discos or
raves or whatever you want to call them, with mega decibel sound
levels, what sort of communication is possible?  They can't talk to each
other, hear each other, cannot even hear themselves think!  Surely it
must stunt their ability to communicate.  (No wonder some of them resort
to more physical ways of communication!)

End of comments

Ray Hattingh
e-mail: leemond@ilink.nis.za
Phone :( 27) ( 21) 531-6781
Postal Address:
P O Box 111
Howard Place
South Africa
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