As a newborn child enters the world, he opens his eyes for the first time to this wonderous new environment. His gaze falls upon his mother. At the same time she falls in love with this tiny new life, cradled in her arms.
This tiny child is passed to the doctor who checks his breathing and heartbeat, all good. Next his beautiful eyes are examined and everything is fine. His cranium is perfect, all as it should be. More checks…….. Oh my God, this baby is Deaf!
The parents panic, oh no, not our child. He will surely grow up to be different, he won’t be clever. He won’t be able to read or write. He’s damaged.
They are shocked further when they learn that 62% of deaf children aged between 5 and 15 suffer from depression.
Why don’t we attempt to view the initial scene in a different way?
The new baby doesn’t know he is Deaf. He is born and immediately begins to gaze upon the world. His ears cause him no pain, no suffering. He is absorbing everything in his environment through his eyes. His ears are not mentioned. No one looks at them. Here is a perfectly healthy baby.
The parents who have the baby labelled ‘Deaf’ are given only one option from the Docor and told this is a positive thing. “We can fit him with a cochlear implant”. More emotional turmoil. The baby looks happy, content and this means surgery, cutting open the baby’s head. There is no time given to the parents to bond with their baby, to look into his eyes and coo over him. The relationship is already different and the immediate and crucial time for these new parents to get to know and come to accept their child is gone. They have failed their child. This should never be allowed to happen.
The decicion is made and the child is fitted with the implant.
This little boy then grows up in our society. It is a far cry from a perfect situation. He feels isolated, cut off from his peers. The next horror is being put into a mainstream school, where all his education is offered to him orally, the emphasis being forever on hearing and speech. Is this the only way to deliver education? Surely not! But, being subject to this means this little boy still has a 62% chance of suffering from low self-esteem and depression.
The Doctors could easily have seen a healthy, happy child being born and made the decision that his vision was the important factor thus allowing him to grow up learning through his eyes. He could develop language through sign, employing different and effective methods of educating him using his vision instead of his hearing.
When other visual children meet this little boy, they recognise his as an equal and he soon makes friends. Focusing on his inability to hear automatically makes him inadequate and sets him apart from other children. Had he been put into a visual school, he would have blossomed, developing alongside others who also use sign language and feeling equal to his classmates.
So, do we label tiny babies as Deaf or think of them as Visual? Gives you something to think about, hmmm?