“…….At Least Do Not Harm Them”



From the Dalai Lama: “If you can, help others; if you cannot do that, at least do not harm them.”

Just noticed a photo of Gene Simmons with the Dalai Lama…..both flashing the ILY (I love you) ASL sign. Next I saw a photo of the Pope doing the same.

I’m starting to see this more and more and my brain is split.

One side of brain says – – “well this is cool. More people are becoming aware of deafness and sign language and this may lead to more people wanting to learn more.”

Other side of brain says – – “I wonder if this is just trendy right now. Trendy is lame. Trends come and go like bell bottoms and mullet haircuts. Is there any real awareness connected to this?”

I guess only time will tell.

We ARE seeing more and more sign language interpreters in concert venues. And they’re not just standing on the corner of the stage blending into the background. They are becoming a REAL part of the show.

But,  are we seeing more awareness and education regarding the lives of deaf children and adults?

How many people know what ASL means?

How many people know what a Cochlear Implant is?

How many people are aware of the controversies swirling around deafness and communication?

How many people are brave enough to actually interact with a deaf person , understanding how difficult it is to lip-read for so many, and contemplate how many barriers exist when communication is challenging.

Probably “not many” is my guess….unless you are pushed to learn because you have to. Your child cannot hear and you are forced to make decisions. Even more frustrating,  professionals offering advice will often disagree with each other.

Reading the comments responding to  articles / blogs written by those advocating for one method over another can be truly enlightening and again……confusing when seeking answers.

A recent blog post written by a Mom contemplating the best path for her deaf toddler resulted in these comments from readers.

“I blamed myself. I was no Annie Sullivan. I couldn’t break him, and instead, he was breaking me.”

“At our program we encourage all children with cochlear implants to use sign as well. “

“Great – a single story about one child’s negative experience with cochlear implants. Well, to counter that, here’s a story about my child’s spectacular success using cochlear implants.”

“There is no perfect recipe for language with a deaf or hard of hearing child. It’s very individual and I wish people would realize that and stop judging parents for what they try or don’t try.”

And then……..”Can we please stop with the “handicaps are to be celebrated” nonsense? “

And the beat goes on. I’m not aware of any other “condition” surrounded by so much emotional controversy for so many years.

Until we can truly walk a mile in the moccasins of others, I believe we can – at best – only guess at their experiences day to day.  Many parents will experience trials and errors before settling on the unique “best path” for their unique child.

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About Evelyn

Evelyn Hunter is a SODA with years of experiential study in Deaf Culture. She attended Gallaudet University to immerse herself in this unique deaf world while working for the University and studying sign language to hone her skills. Evelyn has served in training, relationship sales, and marketing -- always seeking to expand awareness of Deaf Culture and the unique challenges the deaf face on a daily basis. The Sign Language Company has recently established a presence on Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and a website with a blog, as Evelyn coordinates the marketing and outreach efforts for the agency. Her goal is to attract new clients seeking exceptional service, while maintaining optimal relationships with clients who have selected The Sign Language Company for over 20 years.

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