Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Deaf-Gain: why the world needs Deaf people - Dr. Dirksen Bauman & Dr. Joseph Murray

Joe Murray starts the presentation with explaining the title of the presentation. The first draft title of this presentation was "Does the world need deaf people?". In the past the response to this was that Deaf people need to be cured, but we want to not look at it as a hearing loss, but actually something that the world can gain from Deaf people. We would like that the philosophy that focuses on "hearing loss" changes to something positive on how we can actually help the world gain something from our deafness.

So, Dirksen Bauman and Joe Murray have developed the concept of "Deaf gain". There are three concepts related to this concept:

  1. Deaf Benefit: what do Deaf people gain from being Deaf
  2. Deaf Contribute: what can Deaf people can contribute to the world
  3. Deaf Lead: how can we as Deaf people lead the world
Deaf Contribute: language
There are many ways that Deaf people can contribute to the world. Language is the channel by which we can contribute to the world. Language has mostly been viewed as a spoken language, and now after many years of research the world is now recognising sign language as an equal to spoken language as well. Humans have the capacity to communicate in sign and spoken languages. Joe Murray then gives examples of the various signing committee around the world, such as Martha's Vineyard. The main concept Murray and Dirksen Bauman would like to propos is: To sign is to be human.

Deaf contribute: space
The world is mostly designed by hearing people. When five years ago Gallaudet University asked a group of 20 people what an ideal building would look like, all the persons independently gave the same reply: the shapes would all be round. One example of this is seitting at a round table, which is easier to converse at than at a square shaped table. 

Deaf benefit: visual thinking
Deaf people's brain have the capacity to process more visual information by the use of perifirial vision. 

Deaf benefit: manual thinking
There is a significant contribution to the understanding by the messages coming through the hands. An example was given that also hearing children have increasing learning through signs or sign language.

Deaf Benefit: transnationalism
Joe Murray emphasized the gain of being together at an international conference. Deaf persons can communicate with any other deaf person even though we are from different countries. We benefit from being Deaf together. 

Deaf Benefit: collectivism
An amazing example is that deaf participants from North and South Korea met here together for the first time after 50 years. The meeting took place last night and the Deaf participants stated that they still feel part of one nation. Deaf people share a common space, a common way of communicating. etc

Deaf  Lead: visual manual education
Deaf education should not be looked at something that is filling a special need of deaf persons, but let's look at the potential of deaf children and see how society can gain from deaf persons. Deaf education should cultivate and exploit the potential of deaf children: let's develop manual and visual education. We believe that education for deaf students but also for hearing students should become visual manual education. 

Deaf lead
Deaf people can lead the way on the change of the world. We can teach hearing people on how they can contribute in the same way. We would like to propose that deaf children are educated internationally, not education in one country, but why do we not work towards a global education. Deaf people can lead the way on this change of education. 

Deaf lead; deaf gain economy
We would like to ask Deaf people how they can contribute to the world economy through their capacities of being Deaf. Through the teaching of baby signs we also see that the world is accepting sign language more, and Deaf people have contributed in this way to the economy. Hearing parents are now teaching baby signs to their hearing children. We can also imagine that Deaf people can develop Deaf Gain Video Games, especially thinking of the strong perifirial vision deaf people have. We can also imagine that for example there will be Deaf Gain Gestural Interface developed for smart phones or tablets. Another contribution could be to architecture and urban planning. For example to have the requirement of having a deaf architect involved or a deaf person approving the design of the building. Deaf persons can also contribute as lighting consultants or as designers, since the 3D concept is well developed with deaf people. Or the area of film and cinema can be a good area of Deaf people contributing. Another opportunity would be as business networking consultants, such as how to communicate internationally with Deaf people. 

Deaf lead: Human Rights
The focus of the congress is much on human rights. So we as Deaf people throughout the world can contribute to human rights collectively. We can make a contribution to the world, regardless of our disability, or even because of our disability.

Conclusion: Deaf gain is human gain
So we think that Deaf people can contribute considerabley to the world. Deaf persons should not be eradicated from the world. We need bio diversity in the world. The world would not be the same without Deaf people. The world cannot continue without Deaf people. 

In short: deaf gain, is not only benefiting Deaf people, but Deaf gain is human gain. 

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