In a Guardian article, Sarah Ditum has argued that cuts to Bristol’s Centre for Deaf Studies are threatening the future of Deaf people’s linguistic culture.
When I was a kid, I used to play at being deaf by covering my ears. Obviously, this was not a very satisfactory approximation of the deaf experience, and I didn’t really have an inkling of what it meant to be deaf until I shared a car with a hearing friend who works as a British Sign Language interpreter and three other BSL speakers.
Everyone made concessions to my limitations and we talked in a mixture of English and BSL. But as the conversation got more animated, whole digressions and throwaway jokes went on, and I could barely have known what I was missing out on. I was tongueless in that car, and I found it stressful and alienating. I realised as I’d never realised before that I’m not entirely sure who I am if I can’t be heard (probably an especially acute complaint for columnists).
Now imagine that you have that same experience of tonguelessness, but instead of sitting in a car with people you know, you’re seriously ill in a hospital bed – and nobody can explain to you what’s happening. As reported in this newspaper, profoundly deaf Elaine Duncan spent 12 days in Ninewells hospital, Dundee. Despite her repeated requests, she was at no time provided with an interpreter: her appendix was removed without anyone discussing her treatment in her first language.
This is nightmarish stuff, and an everyday reality for many deaf people. The charity Signature says there is a national shortage of BSL interpreters, with only 800 registered interpreters serving a population of 25,000 BSL speakers.
Read the full article here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/may/13/deaf-people-linguistic-culture-disintegrate
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