Imagine trying to learn a new language, making the correct tongue movements, controlling the airflow through your mouth, and voicing the correct sound and tone. Now imagine doing this while not knowing what the word you are saying sounds like. This is what many deaf and hard of hearing people must do to learn how to speak. The technique of teaching deaf people how to speak and read lips is referred to as oralism. It is a hard and laborious method and in the past often had extreme measures, that were border line abusive, put in place to try and ensure success. Manaulism is when a deaf person uses sign language as their primary from of communication. Learning to communicate using sign language is much more easier on a deaf or hard of hearing person. Although the majority of Deaf culture views oralism as a form of abuse and an attempt to “fix” their disability, instead of embracing their differences and culture, many deaf families view oralism as a way to interact with the “normal” society of the hearing world and embrace the idea of allowing their profoundly deaf children to “hear” and talk to hearing people through a spoken language.
When people hear the word “deaf” many times they think of their grandparents or other elders who have lost their ability to hear due to old age. However today for every 1,000 children, at least 1 is considered to be deaf or heard of hearing (Honig, 177.) Deafness is a disability that is easily overlooked and misunderstood because it is not a disability that is easily observed. Helen Keller once said that, “Blindness cuts people off from things. Deafness cuts people off from people.” When a person is blind or need glasses society easily recognizes that in some cases special accommodati...
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... using total communication they can still maintain an inclusion of Deaf culture, but also become a member of mainstream society.
In conclusion, while using the oralism technique for deaf children to learn how to communicate with a hearing society is time consuming and frustrating, it can be helpful if they learn to talk and read lips. Not to have society “fix” them, but so they can understand people and become part of a hearing society. By being able to communicate with mainstream society they can more easily stand up for their rights and help us to understand their problems and obstacles. An oral deaf or hard of hearing person can convey their exact thoughts, feelings, needs, and opinions to any one with out the need for a translator.
Honig, J., and Jones, J. Adult Basic Education for the Deaf, Fair Lawn,NJ: Fair Lawn
Community School, 2011.
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