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Deaf Mind, Deaf Look, Too Deaf, & Not Deaf Enough
What's a "Deaf Mind"?
You can read a laudatory statement on the "Deaf Mind", or spiritus surdis (spiritual identity to the Deaf Culture ) here:
But saying someone has a “Deaf mind” can also be contemptuous. In fact, it is used that way every time we see it. It is said about a Deaf person, almost always by another Deaf person.
As such, someone with a “Deaf mind” is over-impacted in the Deaf way of life, or is "too Deaf", by choice or circumstance, or both. S/he is irrationally unaware of, uninterested in, or alienated from a great deal in the hearing world --- from things that most other Deaf people consider important to their lives and pursue to their advantage.
If you have a better definition, send it to: TheBrainyDeafSite@Yahoo.com
What's "Not Deaf Enough"?
Being “not Deaf enough”, denotes insufficient connection to the deaf culture and Community. It is very descriptive and usually contemptuous. To be sufficiently Deaf, one must possess a mix of features. There are hard and soft opinions.
It’s best illustrated by describing someone who is surely immune from
being “not deaf enough”, or is super-Deaf if you wish.
S/he is prelingually deaf with deaf speech, and is without a hearing aid and (God forbid) a cochlear implant. S/he went to an all-deaf non-oral school (preferably a well-known one). S/he signs fluently with minimal mouth wording. S/he has Deaf parents (and a plus if the siblings are deaf too). If s/he has his/her own family, the spouse of course is Deaf and deaf children add more points. Almost all the friends are likewise Deaf.
Most Deaf-enough people seem accepting and even proud of their status. Unfortunately, some very-Deaf types display their status in the Deaf Community like a block of battle ribbons. They are quick to look down upon and reject others who (in their opinion) don’t make the grade. That behavior is destructive to the Deaf Community, which needs the weight of numbers ----all the deaf, hard-of-hearing, and hearing allies it can get.
The term was popularized during the 1988 Gallaudet "Deaf President Now" protest. You can read a stinging criticism of "Not Deaf Enough" in that, by going here:
What’s a “Deaf Look”?
You look at a lone stranger, say on a train, and get the hunch that s/he’s Deaf. Yes, there's a "Deaf look"; we’ve encountered it a number of times. So have others we’ve heard from. Only recently, we were surprised when the husband of a couple we met, turned out to be hearing. We were sure as hell he was Deaf. His Deaf wife laughed, saying , “Oh yes, he just looks so very, very Deaf. Everyone thinks so, and not because of me.”
We are certain there's a "Deaf look" (not universal of course), but can't clearly describe it.
Has anyone written about this? We found this in a thread on the Alldeaf website, posted by someone called Audiofuzzy:
"I am not sure if this is because I am used to being around the deaf but yeah, I sort of can sense a deaf person just by looking at them. I don't know what it is - the way they move, hold their face - but something different is there. Sometimes even when I look at the photo of a stranger I think to myself - "this person looks deaf to me" - and presto! they are!"
A reader told us that for him, one tipoff that a lone stranger is Deaf is this: If s/he is mingled with hearing strangers, say in a subway car, her/her occasional gaze drifts from one face to another, calmly studying several people, and turning away if noticed.
There might be a link to this in a hair-splitting study from Japan that seems to prove that Deaf people look at other people's faces differently than hearing people do.
You can take a brainy dive into it via this:
We have a poll on page 7 about a "deaf look". It's under the image of the unknown woman in Rafael's painting, La Muta, in the right hand column, way down. This subject is probably not of much interest, as hardly any reader has taken the poll.
What's a "Deaf Date"?
A "deaf date", in Generations X and Y slang, is similar to a "blind date".
Prior to your date, you've seen the person (such as at a distance, or in a photo), but have not yet communicated with him or her.
What's "The Deaf Leading the Deaf"?
Of course it's a takeoff on "the blind leading the blind". It's an amusing tag in the punk, junk, rock, etc. music world for a musical band of inept amateurs, who produce only substandard work or noisy trash.
What's "Deaf Gain"?
It's a proud counter-term to "hearing loss".
What's "Manually Retarded"?
A comical tag for a hearing person trying to learn finger-spelling and being totally inept at it.
Political Correctness of Words & Phrases
----Or the "Game of the Name"
A letter to the Editor of The New York Times:
"Your November 13th editorial refers to a political campaign as "blind to so many different faces" and "deaf to so many voices". You appear to use the words "blind" and "deaf" to mean unaware, uninformed, uninterested, and thus imply that people with these disabilities share these attributes.
People who are blind and deaf are involved and competent; you should communicate this message, not because it is politically correct, but because it is true."
Louis Alterescu, 11/13/1992
Political Correctness (PC, or “the game of the name” as the New York Times called it), eliminates words that offend. Many words do offend, such as "invalid” to describe a person needing a lot of care. "Invalid's" other meaning is “worthless”. Helpless people are often considered (behind their backs, of course) to be worthless to their families and to society. Context defines which of the two meanings you mean to use, but……..
...........the respected Harvard cognitive scientist Steven Pinker, wrote in the New York Times (2/2/99) of what happens when you hear or read a word. All meanings of that word which you may be aware of, race though your brain in hundredths of a second. An incorrect meaning for that word can make an impression, even a prime one.
In colloquial speech, hearing people hear "dumb" in the context “stupid”, 10,000 times more than they hear it to mean “unspeaking”. The only time they hear it to mean unspeaking, is when they hear "deaf and dumb". In that case, they know its intended meaning but “stupid” still flashes through and will register also as "stupid" in their brains, according to Prof. Pinker.
Like all big movements, PC overshoots. Terms like “vertically challenged” are well-meant, but considered over-done or silly by many, even those to whom they apply to. “Deaf” has always been a negative word to most hearing people, even a terrifying one to some. But the Deaf Culture Community will have nothing to do with the euphemistic “hearing impaired”, with good reason. (Similarly, as this thing goes with disabled groups like “Cripples On the Move”, “Not Dead Yet”, etc.). __________________________________________________________
"Disabled people resent words that suggest they are sick, pitiful, childlike, dependent, or objects of admiration".
From a New York Times review of Joseph Shapiro’s book,
No Pity (Times Books).
The Portsmouth Asylum for the Idiotic, Deaf and Dumb, and Blind, was an institution in Maine 150 years ago. The name raised no eyebrows back then.
The following is paraphrased from Living With a Disabality
by Paul K. Langmore.
Disabled people are viewed collectively, rather than for their individual abilities. Using words such as "abnormal", presents a grim view. It infers that disabled people are less than others. Other terms, such as “afflicted with”, “stricken with”, or “suffers from”, convey weakness and defeat. Euphemistic terms like “physically challenged”, “handi-capable”, “ inconvenienced”, and “differently abled”, create a negative blanket of isolation for those they refer to. [We can add "hearing-impaired" to that].
Saying “confined to a wheelchair” creates a false impression. Wheelchairs liberate; they do not confine. They are just a mobility tool from which people can transfer to chairs, to cars they ride in or drive, to their beds, etc.
Brainy Way to Get Rid of a PC No-No Word
The Institute for the Crippled and Disabled (ICD) in New York City, originated in 1917. When "crippled" became a PC no-no, they scrambled for a name change. It wasn't just a matter removing "crippled" from their name. High up on their imposing building was this big, costly, 3D, stylized "ICD" sign --- very expensive to revise.
A name-change to "Institute for the Disabled" was perfect, but what to do about that "C" in the sign?
Brainy solution: Launch a few projects overseas and become the International Center for the Disabled. And that's them today with the sign untouched.
An Very (Unfortunately Incomplete) Potpourri of Common PC No-No Words and Phrases---
Don't say it:
afflicted with....., athritic, blind as a bat, cerebral-palsied, confined to a wheelchair, crazy, crip, crippled, deaf and dumb, deaf mute, deaf as a doorpost (rock, mummy, etc.), defective, deformed, epileptic, gimp, invalid, insane, idiot, lame, loonie, limper, moron, maimed, paralytic, retard, spastic, spaz, withered, stricken with...., victim of...., wheelchair-bound or confined to a wheelchair...........
The Most Influential Person of the Last Thousand Years ----Was Deaf
Thomas Edison has been called "the most influential person of our millenia". That puts this deaf person over Karl Marx, Sigmund Freud, and Albert Einstein. He created thousands of new devices and technologies. He held 1093 patents, still a record. A committee trying to consolidate the Edison record into 15 volumes, has been swimming in a sea of several million documents for years and years. They are only up to Volume 8, a whopper of 800 pages, released in 2012.
The Deaf Kid with the Empty Head
Edison lost much of his hearing at age 7 from scarletina and dyslexia. Here's Tom at about 13, the deaf kid whose school headmaster thought was "addled" (empty-headed) and couldn't be educated ---and thus wouldn't amount to anything. ( He never entered another school. He was educated by his mother and himself. )
His father, so disappointed in his deaf son (the youngest of seven kids), defaulted on the school's tuition. Thirty years later, the internationally famous Edison received a letter from this same schoolmaster, now elderly, asking for "a little financial aid" in view of the father's default. (We haven't been able to find Edison's response).
More or Less Completely Deaf
The photo at top was posed; Edison couldn't hear his gramophone invention at all. He was 100% deaf in one ear and at least 80% in the other. Back then, with numbers like that and nothing much better than ear trumpets, it might as well have been 100% both ears.
He wrote, "The phonograph would never have been what it is now, if I had not been deaf. ....... Deafness, pure and simple, was responsible for the experimentation which perfected the machine". (He continued developing the phonograph over 52 years.)
"I've not failed. I just found ten thousand ways that don't work"
Deafness did not stop Edison from solitary and relentless pursuit of sound-related inventions. It gave him superpowers of concentration. He used his teeth and fingernails to sense what he couldn't hear. He worked day and night past the age of 80--- often working through nights and subsisting only on catnaps.
He never bothered inventing any kind of hearing aid. He said he needed the deafness to help his concentration.
His important improvement of A.G. Bell's impractical telephone, via the carbon microphone, went unchallenged for sixty years (and it's still around in many countries).
He is popularly known only as the inventor of the movie projector, the phonograph, and his crowning achievement, the light bulb.
The bulb is presently being challenged by LEDs and CFLs, but it remains strong throughout the world. Its reign so far is 134 years and ongoing.
What's not popularly known is that he invented a whole system of generators and dynamos to provide city-wide power for his light bulbs.
Inventor of the Personal Greeting "Hello"
Very few know that the English greeting, "Hello" used a gazillion times (and into forever) is a deaf person's invention
Before then, "hello's" general meaning was "oh!" (E.g., "Hello, I just ripped my pants!!"). It was not a greeting of any sort.
Edison used his fame to popularize "hello" as a telephone greeting, Prior to that phone greetings were variously, "Is anyone there?", "Are you ready to talk?", "Who are you?" , "Please speak now", and "Ahoy there!!". Early on, phones were used in business between only two points, say between a main store and its annex. The line was always open both ways. Getting someone's attention was urgent. At the start, there were no ringers, dialings, or hangups.
Edison chose "hello" because it would sound forceful, like a bellow, if used by a male (almost all phone users were male back then). It was thus likely to catch the attention of nearby people at the receiving end.
Eventually, it became the standard general greeting in the English language.
When phone systems were created, the operators became known as "Hello Girls". (They were always female. A group of young males was once tried, but were terminated due to customer complaints about gruffness and lack of courtesy).
Some of the above comes from Matthew Josephson's brilliant and sensitive biography, Edison (McGraw Hill, 1959).
Edison is still very much with us: The eigth of 15 volumes on Edison's work has just been issued (with over 800 pages at $95). It was reviewed in The New York Times Book Review 3/25/2012). The review, a few thousand words across the whole centerfold, mentions his deafness with just a single glib afterthought ---that it was an "irritation to his friends". (The great New York Times does have its dumb moments).
It is not popularly known that Edison was functionally deaf in most of his adulthood ---not as well known as that for Beethoven.
Edison was known to be emotionally cold and turned in, not uncommon for a very deaf person 100% in the hearing world. We (and many others) believe the isolation of deafness was a major factor in his intense creativity.
"I haven't heard a bird sing since I was 12 years old"
The deaf Edison, still at work testing, solving problems, and inventing ----almost to the day he died at age 84 (in 1931).
In TTY relay calls operators must type (in parenthesis) what they hear in the background
----- just as a hearing person would overhear in a voice call. Most hearing people are unaware that the operator does this.
(a consumer advocacy website) reported an episode. A deaf woman called her car dealer via the TTY-Relay Service. During the conversation, the employee there spoke aside to a co-worker that he’s “talking to the ideal woman—deaf, dumb, and blonde”. The operator typed it. (The caller’s forceful reaction, can be read through the link at end of this article).
We’ve been told similar stories. Here are five more:
1. A late-deafened psychiatrist relay-called her affiliated hospital several times, on aspects of the same matter. The receptionist politely put her on hold to look up a requested item, but yelled out to a co-worker, which the relay operator typed:
( HEY ITS THAT NUTTY DEAF DOC AGAIN ) . The doctor let it go as she found it amusing.
2. A deaf woman relay-called a hearing friend to say she wanted to visit, to see the friend’s new grandchild. The friend wanted no visitors that day and tried in vain to hint the fact. So she fibbed that her daughter had taken the baby elsewhere earlier that day. The operator then typed, ( BABY COOING ).
3. A Deaf guy with a pet food business, called his supplier to complain of a long-overdue order. He was told it was due to a FedEx problem. The operator next typed the supplier’s comment to a co-worker, ( HADDA BULL HIM BECZ I FORGOT ALL ABT HIM ).
The Deaf guy needed this supplier more than the supplier needed him, so he let it go.
4. A deaf man called his hospital to inquire about a pricey items on his bill. A lady there explained it, talking on and on with confusing medical terms. He requested a simpler explanation. She politely apologized, assuring him she would be most happy to start over and provide one. The operator then typed: (LOUD GROAN).
5. A Deaf man relay-called a big electronics supplier to revise his order details. Their agent promptly told him, "WE DONT ACCEPT RELAY CALLS !!". The operator then typed, (YELLING--- HEY HEY ITS A RELAY CALL). Then a co-worker's response was typed as
(OTHER PERSON--- TELL THEM TO TAKE A HIKE IN NIGERIA). The party hung up on the operator.
The caller had a hearing friend call and relate this to a VP there, who profusely apologized. The VP explained that his company was taken for a big ride by some "Nigerians or some such outfit" that ordered laptops by TTY relay (assumably pretending to be deaf) and paid via stolen credit card numbers.
Here's the link to that "deaf, dumb, and blonde" incident, above.
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