Amanda Turner: ‘Snail mail’ should still have a place in deaf and hearing hearts

Posted on March 5, 2013

Having recently celebrated a birthday, I was delighted to receive a birthday card from an old friend which contained a good old fashioned letter – Snail Mail, delivered (miraculously) on time for my big day!

In a modern world full of tweets, SMS, BBM, e-mail, Facebook and other such wonders of the digital age, letter writing is a dying art.

Cast your mind back – when was the last time you received something via the post that was not a bill, junk mail or a pre-printed card or greeting of some description? These days, you can even order your birthday/anniversary etc…, greeting on line to be sent directly to the recipient – you never even get to sign your own name!

Whilst these websites offer a “personalised” service, with the cards, photos, greetings and messages tailored to the recipient, the overall effect is in fact very “impersonal” indeed.

As I settled down to read my mail with a nice cup of tea and a digestive biscuit or 6, I wondered just how long ago it was that I wrote a real letter – the sort that is full of news and (hopefully) a pleasure to receive?

I concluded that apart from the annual round-robin newsletter to be included with Christmas cards for the people I hardly see year in year out it was a VERY long time ago…. What a shame!

As a child, I can remember being a very eager correspondent – a collector of varied and ornate notelets, cards and writing paper with pretty matching envelopes. I was often pestering my Mum for stamps and enjoyed walking the family Spaniel to the post box at the end of our road to post letters. It made me feel very “grown up” indeed!

I wrote to my best friend who had recently moved from just next door to Meopham, which seemed like the end of the universe to a young child. I also wrote to my Aunt, who at that time lived in the Far East. I eagerly awaited their replies – not least because that gave me an excuse to write another letter!

However, as much as I am a fan of Snail Mail, I do recognise that there is a huge plus side to the digital age – modern communication technology has opened up a whole world of communication to the D/deaf community…….

The advent of the mobile ‘phone, closely followed by the all-singing, all-dancing smart ‘phone, has been a miracle to deaf people. Text and instant messaging (eg BBM or WhatsApp), mobile internet, social media – are easy to access and user friendly to all. Apple affords “facetime” and with a tap of the screen it makes video calls over the wi-fi network from your iPhone, iPad, iPod touch or Mac to another Apple device as easy as “1, 2, 5”.

Such devices give us all social media on the go, but when you are part of a silent world, these applications take on another meaning – a communication bridge between the D/deaf and hearing worlds that just did not exist 10 years ago.

I remember the first Nokia 3310 – we all had one of those, right? A reliable, brick-like device with a battery which lasted forever, could be dropped, splashed with water and generally treated with total disrespect but still worked, day in day out.

SMS was a revelation to us all but it opened up a whole world of possibilities to people who are Deaf and hard of hearing. Finally there was a telephone network open to everyone!

Look how far the technology has moved on in the intervening years – on the BBC news only this morning they were showing mobile ‘phone devices which can remotely control the TV, heating, lighting and cooking in your home….. Where will it all end?!

In all of this technological wonder though, please spare a thought for snail mail – it still should have a place in our lives – surely?

Amanda Turner is the Office Manager at Limping Chicken supporter Deaf Umbrella, and first came to work for the Company in 2002. Before, she had no previous experience of the D/deaf community, but learned quickly and is now training for her Level 2!

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