Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Immigration Issues

Bailiwick Express reported that:

A popular local pizza chain has had to close its St Helier outlet, citing Population Office "constraints" as the cause. Pizza Quarter, which opened in Bel Royal in 2009 and has since expanded to Grève d’Azette and Gorey, says it was forced to close its St Helier branch last week. The management have since hit out at the migration regulation department, stating that their clampdown has unfairly disadvantaged the business, despite its continual efforts to improve the Island.Deputy Jackie Hilton, speaking on Channel TV News, suggested that there must be something wrong if they could not find local workers.

It might be the case that the wages were better suited to an immigrant workforce, and were quite low. Terry on Facebook wondered if this was the case – “Something else behind the closure and just blaming an easy target. Pay a living wage and get good staff.”

It would be useful to know what wages were on offer from Pizza Quarter. I’d gladly run their advert on my blog for locals for free.

Former Constable Graeme Butcher on Facebook tells a different story:

“I know a local lad that applied for a job with that company and was willing to do all sorts of hours the owner promised to get in touch as soon as Gorey opened .. this lad kept in touch but he had employed non local, there is not a desire from many of these companies to employ local, but there are also many locals that just want to sit on their arse and take welfare,these need the Preferbial arse kicking”

Highlands College runs catering courses, and I wonder if the “Jersey Progression Diploma in Culinary Arts and Restaurant Service” provides students with sufficient skills to prepare Pizzas. Has the owner of Pizza Quarter liaised with Highlands to see if there are students looking for opportunities there?

Of course a lot of companies want ready-skilled staff, which is why the new levy proposed by Paul Routier will allow the States to put money into training and retraining, to avoid the need to buy in staff from outside the Island.

Companies will be charged £50 per year for every registered permission they hold – excluding peak season staff. Ministers are hoping to raise £600,000 a year, with half to be reinvested in skills training for islanders so that they can fill vacant job roles. As Paul Routier said:

“These fees will get businesses to really think do they actually need to have registered people when there are already people in the island who might be able to do the job for them.

“We’re going to put more money into training people up.

“Hopefully businesses will recognise the efforts we are putting in to ensure that the workforce do have the right skills for their business.”

Many Island businesses have not been very good at training staff when there is a quick and cheaper alternative – get the staff ready trained from abroad. That is certainly something which Mr Butcher is quite correct about. Changing that mindset is a difficult one, but if we are not to be stuck with exponential growth, they are a necessity.

The Chamber of Commerce, meanwhile, sticks to the tired mantra that we need to grow the population to take care of the ageing population, which even the JEP sees is actually a discredited Ponzi argument.

Monday, 22 May 2017

Some Comic Cuts

Some Comic Cuts

That's Life

A sequence of mistakes in the small adverts of a newspaper, as recounted by Cyril Fletcher on “That’s Life”:

Monday: "The Rev. A.J. Agland has one color TV set for sale. Telephone 626-1313 after 7 p.m. and ask for Mrs. Jordan who lives with him, cheap."

Tuesday: "We regret any embarrassment caused to Rev. Agland by a typographical error in yesterday's paper. The ad should have read: 'The Rev. A.J. Agland has one color TV set for sale, cheap...Telephone 626-1313 and ask for Mrs. Jordan, who lives with him after 7 p.m.'"

Wednesday: "The Rev. A.J. Agland informs us that he has received several annoying telephone calls because of an incorrect ad in yesterday's paper. It should have read: 'The Rev. A.J. Agland has one color TV set for sale, cheap. Telephone 626-1313 after 7 p.m. and ask for Mrs. Jordan who loves with him.'"

Thursday: "Please take notice that I, the Rev. A.J. Agland, have no color TV set for sale; I have smashed it. Don't call 626-1313 anymore. I have not been carrying on with Mrs. Jordan. She was, until yesterday, my housekeeper.'"

Friday: "Wanted: a housekeeper. Usual housekeeping duties. Good pay. Love in, Rev. A.J. Agland. Telephone 626- 1313.'"

From “Beyond the Fringe”

Peter Cook: We are using the technology known as the "Identikit." Are you familiar with it?

Alan Bennett: Isn't that where you piece together the face of the criminal?

Peter Cook: Not entirely, no. We're only able to piece together the appearance of the face of the criminal. We can't quite piece together the actual face of the criminal, unfortunately. Once you've located the face of the criminal, the rest of him isn't hard to find.

From “Yes Minister”

Sir Humphrey: Minister, I have something to say to you which you may not like to hear.

Jim Hacker: Why should today be any different?

Sir Humphrey: Minister, the traditional allocation of executive responsibilities has always been so determined as to liberate the ministerial incumbent from the administrative minutiae by devolving the managerial functions to those whose experience and qualifications have better formed them for the performance of such humble offices, thereby releasing their political overlords for the more onerous duties and profound deliberations which are the inevitable concomitant of their exalted position.

Jim Hacker: I wonder what made you think I didn't want to hear that?

Not Only... But Also
With Peter Cook and Dudley Moore

Pete: Well, see, if there’s a fatality, if the bus is involved in a fatal accident of any kind, it’s the people up the front who get killed first, and the people up the back who get killed last.

Dud:  Well, you get killed all the same though, don’t you?

Pete: Yeah, well you get killed about two seconds later, you see, and in those last two seconds of your life you might suddenly start to believe in God, or you’d be able to make out your will or something like that.

The Two Ronnies

“West Mersea police announced tonight that they wish to interview a man wearing high heels and frilly knickers, but the Chief Constable said they must wear their normal uniforms.” “After a series of crimes in the Glasgow area, Chief Inspector McTavish has announced that he’s looking for a man with one eye. If he doesn’t find him, he’s going to use both eyes.” “

We’ve just heard that in the English Channel, a ship carrying red paint has collided with a ship carrying purple paint. It is believed that both crews have been marooned.” “

A cement mixer has collided with a prison van on the Kingston bypass, motorists are told to be on the lookout for 16 hardened criminals.”

Grove Books Jokes: Four Worms and a Lesson
A minister decided that a visual demonstration would add emphasis to his Sunday sermon:

Four worms were placed into four separate jars.

The first worm was put into a container of alcohol.
The second worm was put into a container of cigarette smoke.
The third worm was put into a container of chocolate syrup.
The fourth worm was put into a container of good clean soil.

At the conclusion of the sermon, the Minister reported the following results:

The first worm in alcohol—Dead.
The second worm in cigarette smoke—Dead
Third worm in chocolate syrup—Dead
Fourth worm in good clean soil—Alive.

So the Minister asked the congregation, ‘What can you learn from this demonstration?’

Maxine was setting in the back, quickly raised her hand and said,

‘As long as you drink, smoke and eat chocolate, you won't have worms!’

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Deaf Awareness Week: A Fair Hearing for St Augustine

A Fair Hearing for St Augustine

Augustine and the Deaf: The Myth

Look up any timeline for the deaf, and St Augustine of Hippo often gets a bad press. Here’s one example:

St. Augustine (354-430 A.D.) taught that the deaf are excluded from salvation on the grounds that they cannot hear the Word of God, citing St. Paul: "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing the Word of God (Romans 10:17). St. Augustine also taught that handicapped children were the results of the "sins" of their parents.

And some others:

  • St. Augustine remarked that deaf people were a representation of God’s anger towards the sins of their parents. 
  • St. Augustine interpreted the birth of handicapped children as proof of man's natural depravity, a sign that children were punished for their father's sin
  • St. Augustine tells early Christians that deaf children are a sign of God’s anger at the sins of their parents

These are the most common statements you will find on the subject of St Augustine and deafness, the ones which come up in article after article, which appear on web pages as soon as you goggle “Augustine” and “deafness”. And they are all quite wrong. So why did they get it so wrong? And what did Augustine really say?

What Augustine observed and wrote

Christian Laes in “Silent Witnesses: Deaf-Mutes in Graeco-Roman Antiquity” notes that:

“St Augustine believed that faith comes by hearing and that deafness is a hindrance to faith. However, he believed that Deaf people can learn and thus are able to receive faith and salvation. Augustine refers to bodily movements, signs, and gestures, and believed that these modes were capable of transmitting thought and belief. He implies that it is equal to spoken language.”
“In his De Magistro Augustine suggests that deaf-mute people were a relatively commonplace constituency, that the deaf were not entirely isolated from the broader hearing society (since there was communication between both groups by means of gesture), and that deaf-mutes also communicated quite sophisticatedly with each other.”

In translation, Augustine says:

“Have you never noticed that people almost talk to the deaf with gesture? Did you never see how by their gestures deaf people ask, answer, teach, or show everything they want or at least most of it? In these situations, not only visible things are expressed without words, but also sounds and tastes and other similar things. Also actors in the theatres are able to explain and display whole stories without using words.”

Christian Laes comments:

“We know that the ancients sometimes recurred to quite elaborate sign language for other occasions: finger counting and rhetoric performance, as well as the so-called "mute" trade with people who spoke an utterly foreign language. Further, Augustine at least theoretically takes into consideration that two deaf-mute people might marry each other. Even if their children were not deaf, they still would learn to express themselves with gesture, particularly if the couple were isolated”

And most notably, Augustine mentions a very well-known handsome and elegant young man in Milan who was both deaf and mute. Here is a translation:

Augustine: But surely, did you not see at Milan a young man of excellent physique and refined manners, yet so mute and deaf that he understood others only by means of signs and that only in the same way could he express what he wished? This man is very well known. I also knew a farmer and his wife who could speak, yet they had four sons and daughters, or perhaps more (I do not recall exactly how many), who were deaf and dumb: dumb, because they couldn’t speak; deaf, because they could take in signs only through their eyes.

Scott G. Bruce in “Silence and Sign Language in Medieval Monasticism” notes a recent study of Augustine - L. A. King, Surditas: "The Understanding of the Deaf and Deafness in Writings of Augustine, Jerome, and Bede."  Bruce comments:

“Contrary to received opinion, the grim social fate of pre-modern deaf children was not mirrored by the teaching of the Church on the issue of their salvation. Over the past hundred years, historians of deaf education have drawn repeatedly, but selectively from the letters of the apostle Paul and the writings of Augustine of Hippo to construct and perpetuate the argument that ancient and medieval Christian thinkers adhered literally to the notion that Faith comes by hearing (Rom. 10:I7) and therefore denied the hope of salvation for deaf people.”

“This presumption has been shown to be completely false. In a brilliant piece of revisionist history, Leslie A. King has argued that uncritical reverence for nineteenth century scholars of deaf education has allowed their erroneous presumptions about medieval attitudes toward the deaf to circulate unquestioned and unexamined down to the present day.”

“Her careful analysis of the Latin terminology for deafness employed by Augustine and other patristic authors and their respective opinions about the deaf and their hope of salvation has led her to conclude that ‘the tradition that Augustine condemned to hell on account of Romans 10:17 is utterly unfounded - is completely at odds with - ideas - attitudes he displays at length and in detail in De Quantitate Animae and De Magistro.’”

Augustine's Theology and Deafness

So let us look at Augustine’s words about deafness which have been mistranslated and misunderstood. These come from his third book “Contra Julianum”, where he writes

“Since you also deny that an infant is subject to original sin, you must answer why such great innocence is sometimes born blind; sometimes, deaf. “

“Deafness is a hindrance to faith itself, as the Apostle says: 'Faith is from hearing.' 'Indeed, if nothing deserving punishment passes from parents to infants, who could bear to see the image of God, which is, you say, adorned with the gift of innocence, sometimes born feeble-minded, since this touches the soul itself? “

“Or is each of you feeble-minded, so that none thinks feeble-mindedness an evil, although as Scripture says: 'The mourning for the dead is seven days, but for a feeble- minded man and ungodly man all the days of their life.'”

“Does anyone not know that those whom people call 'morons' are so dull by nature that some have almost as little wit as cattle? Yet you do not wish to say that from the beginning, when the human race deserted God, it contracts the offense of its condemned origin, which fully deserves to suffer all these punishments it endures except where the inscrutable wisdom of the Creator spares it, mysteriously, according to His plan.”

“There is no basis for your judgment that there cannot be offense in infants, because there can be no offense without will, which they do not possess.' This assertion may be correctly made about a personal sin, but not about the contagion by way of origin of the first sin. If there were no such sin, then infants, bound by no evil, would suffer nothing evil in body or in soul under the great power of the just God. “

“Yet, this evil itself took its rise from the evil will of the first man; so that there is no other origin of sin but an evil will.”

Now let us see what Augustine is saying. First of all, he is saying that being dead is “a hindrance to faith” because it makes education and understanding more difficult. That’s not the same as saying it is impossible, and that while this is expressed negatively, as we have seen, he was very observant, and could see that by gestures – not necessarily signing, but more what might be called “acting out” or “miming”, deaf people could communicate successful. It was just harder for them to do so.

Secondly, he is most certainly not saying that “deaf children are a sign of God’s anger at the sins of their parents”. Rather he is understanding deaf children as a kind of scarred and damaged image of God, and he sees the image of God is damaged in everyone; this is just one manifestation of it.

So the locus is not the sins of the parents, but the damaged state of the parents, what he terms “contagion by way of origin of the first sin”, or what might also be called “original sin”. It is clear from his writing that this “contagion” he sees almost what we would now call genetic – inherent defects in nature passed down from one generation to another.

It is this “original sin”, this defect in human nature, which he sees as that “deserving punishment passed from parents to infants” It is no action on behalf of the parents, but simply a kind of moral and physical genetic flaw, which sometimes manifests itself in children born deaf.

He also is to some extent a realist: while he believes that healing can take place, he has seen innumerable cases when it is not:

“Moreover, our Lord's words about the man born blind that this did not happen because of his own sin or the sin of his parents, but that the works of God were to be made manifest in him cannot be applied to the innumerable infants born with such great variety of faults in soul and body. For, indeed, there are many who are never healed at all, but die with those same faults, at another age, or even in infancy; and some infants already reborn retain the faults with which they were born, while other evils of the same kind may also be added.”

In Augustine’s view this “fallen state” or “original sin” is a defect which we carry in our very being, so that it is impossible for anyone to live a sinless life. He is looking for an explanation of handicapping conditions, and he doesn’t see that all the children born disabled can be said to have been done so to show the works of God to be made manifest.  God can heal, but Augustine doesn’t see it as something we can take for granted.

To some observers, that a disabled person does not receive a miraculous healing is a sign that the person lacks religious faith. For Augustine, this is not the case: it is that the disability is part of the flawed biology of human beings. In many ways, no body functions well, for they are all corrupt.

How are they born in this way? Because of flaws in our biology. Why one person and not another? Augustine sees this as  an “insoluble problem.”  There are no simple answers, and he is honest enough to say so.

He does think of this “moral defect” in our being as being something that was a matter of biological transmission, so that children inherit it because their parents also inherited it. It was not because of any actions, and those statements which link Augustine to saying deafness in a child was a result of parent’s wrongdoing are mistaking “original sin” for “sins”. It is a state of being which we all share.

One we might say is the genetic potential for actions which are morally defective, from which can come the defective acts themselves.

But what then of sex? Although that is the means by which the flawed image is transmitted, which is in line with his genetic view of "original sin", Augustine is very determined not to take the view that sex is in any way evil or that the body is bad:

“I have never censured the union of the two sexes if it is lawfully within the boundaries of marriage. There could be no generation of human beings without such union, even if no sin had preceded it. As to the second proposition you add as mine, that children are born of the union of bodies: this I do say indeed, but the conclusion you wish to draw as mine is not mine."

"I do not say that children, coming from an evil action, are evil, since I do not say that the activity in which married persons engage for the purpose of begetting children is evil. As a matter of fact, I assert that it is good, because it makes good use of the evil of lust, and through this good use, human beings, a good work of God, are generated.”

And elsewhere he says: “actual bodies are certainly not to be treated with contempt, since we wear them in a much closer and more intimate way than any clothing.”

Two Views of Human Nature

While we may certainly see the story of the “fall of Adam” as mythological, I have only ever come across two distinct explanations for the way in which human beings seem inherently incapable of living perfect lives we seem to have a propensity for both good and evil, some kind of flaw in our genetic makeup. Something seems to have gone wrong right at the beginning when human beings evolved into intelligent moral beings.

One is that which was popularised in the notion of the tabula rasa, the blank slate of the philosopher Locke, the innocent savage of Rousseau, in which the moral defects are spread by a kind of cultural contamination, what Dawkins would call a meme. But we know the tabula rasa is false: there is no blank slate. Steven Pinker firmly demolished that.

The other is that how we behave, and how badly we can behave, is part of our genetic heritage, perhaps also linked with the peculiar self-awareness we seem to possess, that we alone seem capable of moral reasoning, and communicating the reasoning. It is spread by a kind of genetic contagion. And bodies themselves are also never perfect: and this lack of perfection is also transmitted genetically. 

We should not of course that the ability for cultural contamination to take place, can itself be seen as an innate flaw in human nature, so this theory encompasses the other as a special case. It is very much a Darwinian kind of explanation: our DNA is defective.

This is the side on which Augustine came down on, but he also was aware in his writings that despite the obstacles which our flawed nature can throw up, such as deafness, that human beings can and do overcome and compensate for those obstacles. It may be hard for the deaf-mute to understand: it is not impossible. It may "hinder faith"; it does not prevent it.

And in conclusion..

A few past historians misunderstood Augustine, and attributed to him positions on disability which he never held, and unfortunately these are widely copied without reverting to source material. But modern historians have looked more closely at what he said, and concluded that the older views were simply reading into the his writings what was not there.

Augustine’s affirmation that life is always worth living despite the many and varied sufferings which beset humankind. The body is good, not evil, indeed  he also says “a woman’s sex is not a defect, it is natural.” 

Augustine also has a very positive perspective on disability:  ‘What does it matter, as he grows up, whether he speaks or makes gestures, since both these pertain to the soul?’

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Deaf Awareness Week: Children of Silence

For deaf awareness week 2017, this poem:

Children of Silence

In the beginning was the silence
Before the word was spoken
And the shattering of worlds
And the vessels of light broken

A silence over the great deep
She is only begotten daughter
Now awakening from her sleep
There are ripples on dark water

Noise erupts, big bang explodes
Cosmic symphony, searing light
Stars linked one by one as nodes
Silence: dark matter alone in night

The children of noise are seen and heard
The children of silence have signed word

Friday, 19 May 2017

Deaf Awareness Week: Being Deaf in Jersey, 1861

For Deaf Awareness Week, as it is Friday when I usually do history blogs, I thought it might be interesting to look back to the past, and I’ve chosen the 1861 census. But this is not just about Jersey in 1861, it is also about deaf people, in particular those described as deaf-mute, unable to hear or speak.

That year the population of Jersey was 55,613, which was down from 57,620 at the previous Census if 1851. The decline was attributed not to any decline in the advantages of Jersey but the reduction in the disadvantages in the UK,  due to an increase in public revenue, and the benefits of free trade, enabled the UK Chancellor of the Exchequer to remove heavy fiscal duties. Hence there was less incentive for inward migration, and some families may have returned to their UK roots.

The census enumerators did their task well, but mistakes could creep in. This was because it was clear that in a few cases, those unable to speak were not unable to hear – as is indeed the case with some autistics, and also some mentally handicapped people may have also been were erroneously returned as deaf-mutes. On the other side, some younger children unable to hear or speak were probably not counted, as parents, not unnaturally, and much as happens today, clung onto the hope that perhaps their children would begin to speak.

According to the Census returns for the UK, the number of.the deaf-and-dumb (including under that term all who were described as dumb) in England and Wales, was 12,236—of whom 6,841 were males and 5,395 females—being in the ratio of 1 in 1,640 of the general population. In 1851 the number returned was 10,314 (5,640 males and 4,674 females), and the ratio to the population was 1 in 1,738.

This was a numerical increase on 19 percent, while the population only showed a 12 percent increase. The reasons are not apparent. The 1851 figures might have been understated, or there could have been a significant rise in the infirmity of deaf-dumbness.

We do know that epidemics raged around the UK during the 1850s and 1860s, and this could have caused an increased in “acquired mutism”. When this occurred early before children have learned to speak, it could destroy or reduce hearing, and dumbness would be the consequence.

Key diseases of the time were scarlatina [scarlet fever], typhus, small-pox, measles, and these were undoubtedly the most common causes of acquired deafness; indeed scarlatina caused more children to become deaf-and-dumb than from any other malady.

Coming to Jersey, population 55,613, the census tells us that there were 23,012 inhabited houses in the islands, and 6.23 persons to a house. Of course, as we can see from the great town houses, or the large country dwellings, this could be a result of having live-in servants.

The census also tells us that there is a great excess of women in the islands; thus, to 100 men of the age of 20-40, there were 133 women, and at the higher ages the disproportion subsists. And of 1,000 women of the age of 25-30, there are 503 wives, 471 spinsters, and 26 widows.

The population of those described as “Deaf and Dumb” was relatively small, with 31 individuals in Jersey compared to 72 blind people.

Of these deaf and dumb, 14 were male and 17 female. They are also categorised by age:

Under 5 – 1 boy
5+ years – 2 boys 1 girl
10+-years 1 boy
15+years 3 boys 2 girls
20+ years 2 men 2 women
25 + years 1 man 2 women
30 + years none
35 + years 4 women
40 + years 1 man
45 + years 2 women
50 + years 1 man 2 women
55 + years 1 man
60 +years - none
65 + years 1 woman

If they were in institutions, these would probably have been the General Hospital at St Helier or that at St Brelade. Hospitals at the time also took in orphans and functioned in part like a poor house or workhouse. As the Public Records Office noted, in 1861 this was:

“partly a general Hospital for the sick, partly a workhouse and school for pauper children, partly a kind of prison for the dissolute and refractory of all classes and lastly the only receptacle for pauper lunatics, and without any resident medical man.”

We don’t have a breakdown showing occupations, if any, for Jersey alone, but tables do exist giving details occupations for the whole of Jersey (31), Guernsey (17) and the Isle of Man (39)

Occupations of the deaf-and-dumb males over these regions include 1 commercial clerk, 1 sail maker 1 house proprietor, 1 tailors. 4 shoemakers, 1 grocer, 3 labourers, 1 gentleman (!), but 11 had no stated occupation and probably were unable to work. There were 20 children of whom 3 were described as scholars suggesting they accessed some kind of education.

Occupations of the deaf-and-dumb females include 1 teacher, 2 domestic servants, 2 cooks, 1 housemaid, 3 seamstresses, 1 gentlewoman (married to the gentleman?), but 18 not taking part in any kind of employment. There were 10 children, but no scholars.

Geoff Wright’s De La Mare family tree has an entry for Jane Mary De Gruchy was born in 1843 in St Helier. The 1851 census shows her living at 29 Columberie St Helier Jersey, Age 7. The census shows "Both" in Blind/Deaf dumb column. But aged 17, in 1861, her occupation is listed as dressmaker.

The general tables for the UK and Channel Islands overall show that, as the report put it, “it is satisfactory to observe that the heavy calamity under which they labour does not disqualify a large proportion.. following a great variety of those pursuits which sweeten the life of man by increasing his usefulness.”

But institutions for the for the education of the deaf-and-dumb were only just increasing. They depended for their support on voluntary contributions, donations, legacies, and annual payments made on behalf of the pupils. In 1861, there were 11 specialist schools in England containing together about 1,000 pupils; 5 in-Scotland with about 240 inmates, and 7 in Ireland with about 400 inmates, making in all 23 institutions with about 1,640 pupils in Great Britain and Ireland.

It is unlikely that there was any schooling in Jersey where children could access education; it was thinly spread in Great Britain. A survey concluded that “Deaf-and-dumb children cannot be grouped with other children in ordinary schools with a reasonable prospect of making much educational progress”

Specialist local help only came late in the 20th century when Ann Bailhache (later to become a Senator in the States) helped found the Jersey Deaf Children's Society with her sister in law (a health visitor) who volunteered Ann as a secretary.

The parents and children used to come to her house and somebody gave them therapy. When they started deaf children had to go to England to get help in a school - but now there are good facilities in schools.

Thursday, 18 May 2017

Deaf Awareness Week: Mainly Anecdotal

Here are a few anecdotal pieces I have found which are experiences of those who are deaf, either from birth, or later in life, and their parents.

They offer a brief window into another world, a glimpse of what it is like to have difficulty hearing, or not hear at all, to lose one’s hearing and the connections with the outside world, and the difficulty that parents can face.

Jack Spear, Ph.D., author of "Neither-Nor: A Young Australian's Experience with Deafness," is a member of AG Bell and has a hearing loss. Professionally, Dr. Spear is a psychologist and consultant to the Wisconsin Disability Determination Bureau.

The loss of hearing can also mean the loss of the easy and casual learning, information gathering and social contact afforded by the gleeful exclamation of the childhood peer on the playground, the sarcastic undertone of the classroom bully or the quickly whispered enticement of the potential sweetheart. Rarely is a single such experience critical in the development of an individual's identity; rather, it is the sum of hundreds of such experiences over many years that are formative. Many of these experiences are considered mundane and taken for granted by hearing individuals, but every deaf individual has frequently said "Aha!" when the common, but ambiguous, situation suddenly becomes clear.

Nicole Iwawaki, author of "Tips for Parents," and her husband, John, are parents to Judah and Cordelia. They live in the San Francisco bay area with their cat, Jose, and often a small flock of hens. Iwawaki's current position is head dishwasher, chauffeur, home school educator, event planner and ring master. Readers can follow her blog at www.deliajude.blogspot.com.

Part of raising a child with hearing loss is teaching her to self-advocate. Teaching her to say "What did you say?" or "Can you speak louder?" or "I am deaf and I need to see your lips when you speak to me." Self-advocacy prepares Cordelia for the future, for when she enters her teen years and beyond, and for the day when we are no longer there to answer queries about her deafness.

Alana Nichols was born and raised in Taipei, ^ Taiwan. Profoundly deaf in both ears due to a common cavity B malformation, she underwent experimental surgery and received auditory-verbal therapy while growing up. After their experiences with Alana, her parents started the Children's Hearing Foundation in Taiwan, which has since expanded its resources to China and Japan, helping thousands of children with hearing loss. Her mother, Joanna Nichols, was the 2010 recipient of AG Bell's prestigious Volta Award.

If there is one value my parents spent the most effort ingraining in me, it would be learning to advocate for myself. For as long as I can remember, my parents made me responsible for informing teachers, classmates, friends and even strangers about my deafness and taking the necessary actions to compensate for any information I may miss as a result. Naturally this became an incredibly valuable tool in school where I learned to sit in the front, ask the teacher to face the class when teaching, and ask when I did not understand information

Ultimately, I believe many of the life values that being deaf has taught me are critical for people from all walks of life including people with typical hearing. How you view yourself is going to have a big impact on how others view you. The same goes for how you view your hearing loss. I have learned that how others respond to my deafness is often reflected in the example I set through my attitudes and actions. If I view deafness as a difficult obstacle that holds me back, I find that others will also see it as a hindrance.

Carrie Spangler, Educational audiologist with hearing loss speaks about her career, advocacy efforts and life with hearing loss

I experienced a rollercoaster of emotions growing up in a mainstream setting with hearing loss, especially in middle and high school. As with any teenager, I just wanted to fit in and be part of a group. I was already one of the tallest girls in my class, had braces, a horrible perm for my hair.. .add to that the hearing aids and talking funny. I certainly felt like an outsider and had some really "down" moments during this time of my life. As professionals, we talk a lot about the grief cycle that parents go through when they find out that their child has a hearing loss. I found that I went through many components of this grief cycle as a teenager trying to accept my hearing loss as a part of who I was. I was mad at God for making me different and went through some periods of depression.

Hearing aids are my connection to the world, to people and to my family-this inspires me to advocate for the hearing and listening needs of others, especially children who may not have the ability or knowledge to advocate for themselves.

I continuously educate my own children about what it is like to have a hearing loss and what they need to do in order to effectively communicate with mom. I also know that as a parent, I need to be sure that I can meet their needs and communicate effectively

Vivie Moraiti was born in Greece and profoundly deaf, used hearing aids most of her life, and now has unilateral cochlear implant. She was mainstreamed throughout her education, is a breast cancer survivor, and is fluent in Greek and English. In her spare time, she mentors cochlear implant recipients from around the world, plays with her camera and spends most of her summer vacations on a boat.

"I'll tell you later." "It's not important."
"Oh, never mind."

These are phrases that I have often heard, ever since I was little. Now, I hear them less often because when I don't understand something, I simply laugh without knowing why they're laughing or I make a sad face because everyone else does it. I always say that I can't act or lie to save my life, and yet I do it anyway. Since I received my cochlear implant, I still have these "bluffing" moments, but not as often as before. About 90 percent of the time, though, when I ask friends what's happening in a conversation, I'll get the answer: "I'll tell you later." And when, later, I remind them, they'll almost always answer that they "forgot" what it was about. Some, more honest people say it was really NOT that important.

Well, it WAS important to me, even briefly so. If I'm asking, it means that it matters to me, and that I want to understand and participate. The problem is that nobody will cooperate. And then they wonder why I avoid large gatherings, coffee dates and bars, and prefer to have oneon-one meetings or gatherings at home with a relaxed feeling and few people.

At large gatherings, banquets, weddings and baptisms, I simply do not try to follow along. I prefer to kill time with dancing or people-watching. And generally try to leave when it's not rude to do so. I could make a fuss over "I'll tell you later," but I now realize that if the other person does NOT want to include you, it's not worth spending time with him/her.

Dear readers, if you have someone to whom you tell this phrase often, especially if she is deaf or hard of hearing, stop and think for one minute how she will feel when you tell her. Think about how it will sadden her, especially if it's the umpteenth time she has heard it. Turn around and spend five minutes to include and explain. Show her the way and you will make her hour, day, even week. If you absolutely have to tell her this phrase.. ..KEEP your word and tell her! Even if it seems unimportant to you.

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Deaf Awareness Week: Challenges and Changes

Jewish teachers have played a dominant role in the special education of the deaf. I have therefore devoted this historical survey to looking at how Judaism understood the place of deaf people in society, and especially those who were both deaf and dumb.

It is a story which begins with Aristotle’s malign idea, which seems to have infected Jewish thought, that those who were deaf and dumb lacked intelligence, and should be treated accordingly. This was an idea that human nature was somehow fixed and immutable, something we see today in some of the literature on IQ, which still owes a greater legacy to Aristotle than Darwin, despite its biological pretentions.

Tzvi C. Marx in his book “Disability in Jewish Law” comments that:

The dignity of a disabled person in halakhic life is... largely determined by the extent of his inclusion in the obligation to observe the precepts. The precepts, we saw, regulate activities in a wide range of areas, including civil liability, serving as a witness, criminal exile for inadvertent manslaughter, capital punishment, and ritual laws. 

Various categorizations with respect to disability are adduced in Jewish law. In the Rabbinic literature, the seeing disabled, the hearing disabled and the mentally disabled are distinguished. Rabbinic perceptions of these disabilities determine the religious roles open to the disabled, which in turn impact on other aspects of their lives.

Bonnie Gracer’s study "What the Rabbis Heard: Deafness in the Mishnah" shows that even in the ancient world, distinctions could be made between different kinds of hearing loss.

She looks at the Tannatic scholars -  those Jewish scholars who were active in Palestine during the 1st and 2nd centuries, whose teachings are found chiefly in the Mishnah. As Gracer notes:

“Tannatic rulings demonstrate an impressive awareness of deafness specific issues. For example, the existence of a separate category for an individual who had "become a deaf mute" suggests an understanding of age-of-onset (of deafness) as a critical factor in speech and language development. “

“And it is clear that the Tannaim understood that deaf people communicated both manually and orally. For example, M. Gittin states, "A deaf mute (cheresh) may transact business by signs and be communicated with by signs" and then continues, "Ben Bathyra says, he may transact business and be communicated with by lip movements in matters concerning movable property."

And M. Yevamot states, "Just as he marries by gesture so he may divorce by gesture."

These activities - marriage, divorce, business dealings - require intelligence, reason, and knowledge. So we can see that at least some of the rabbis accepted that meaningful concepts could be communicated manually by gestures, and at least some deaf people could have access to those transactions in their own person.

The Mishnah appears to have been taken written form around 200 AD. This is the written compendium of Rabbinic Judaism's Oral Torah, what we might see as a codification of custom law as opposed to statue law. To this was added the Gemara (around 500 AD) which is a kind of commentary on the Mishnah and related Tannatic writings that often ventures onto other subjects and expounds broadly on the Hebrew Bible.

Together these formed the core of Jewish teaching – the Talmud, and it is here that we find the more thinking about deafness. The Talmud distinguishes between those who cannot speak, those who cannot hear, the loss of those facilities later in life or earlier in life, and those who are both speech and hearing disabled.

But it seems the Jewish scholars could not believe that someone who from birth lacked speech and hearing could also have intelligence. As Tzvi Marx notes:

“In the Talmud, lacking the ability to understand others is applied only to those who is both hearing and speech disabled, but not to the only deaf or only mute individual. Exemptions and disqualifications in the Talmud that refer to the heresh thus apply only to deaf-mutes.”

The deaf-mute (heresh) was thereby classed as mentally disabled. But all this was to be challenged in the 19th century. 

Hirsch Kolisch, the philanthropist, was born at Nikolsburg and in 1844 established there a school for deaf-mutes under the administration of Joel Deutsch (1844). The institute was transferred in 1852 to Vienna. This pioneering institution demonstrated that deaf-mutes could be taught to communicate to a far greater degree than was previously thought possible. Contrary to the earlier view that the deaf-mute lacked understanding, he or she was now shown to have a range of understanding virtually identical to that of his non-disabled peers.

Prior to this, any gestural communication by those unable to speak or hear was treated as purely an artifice of training. One scholar wrote that “the learned actions of the deaf-mute are like the actions of an old monkey that was merely trained by repetition without volition and free choice.”

But in a letter from Joel Deutsch to Edward Walter, Director of the Institute for the Deaf in Berlin, this hypothesis is contradicted. Deutsch asserted that while the capacity of some was limited, the capacity of many who had undergone their training programme showed a profound and keen intelligence.

In support of this contention, he sent an essay by one of his students, Bernhard Brill, and said that he doubted if any non-disabled person “could match his lucid and incisive style.”

As Tzvi Marx notes, following this Rabbi Hildesheimer argued that whether a deaf mute was competent or not depended on whether their intelligence was considered to be an essentially flawed part of their make-up, “or held to be normal, but locked in like a hidden treasure.”

Everyone at the time, both in the Jewish world and outside, accepted the first hypothesis, which had been stated so many years ago by Aristotle.

The first hypothesis was accepted by everyone, including the Gentiles, until Victor August Jaeger, professor at Wurtemburg, in his 1842 Guide to the Education of Deaf-Mutes and the Speaking-Disabled, in Religion and Other Subjects Taught in Schools, “showed that the deaf-mute has all the faculties for the acquisition of speech: intelligence, the capacity for learning a language and the requisite physical organs for doing so, the sensibility to absorb the forms of speech, and the means to communicate with others.”

The key breakthrough was the realisation that language and cognition could take place without an individual being able to speak, because a language is itself a form of signing, as Plato put it, gestures of the tongue.

And in 2011, Rabbi Pamela Barmash presented a paper on behalf of the Committee on Jewish Law and Standards of the Rabbinical Assembly. It was accepted unanimously. It stated that:

The Committee on Jewish Law and Standards rules that the deaf are of the same ability as those without disabilities and that the terrible categorization of the deaf as mentally incapacitated be reversed. Sign language is undoubtedly a language, a means of communication equal to speech and satisfies what halakhah needs to have communicated in matters of personal status. The requirement that certain liturgical units, such the Shema, must articulated is met by the physical motions of sign language.”

And she concludes:

The Torah states that "Do not curse the deaf nor put a stumbling-block before the blind."(Lev 19:14) It is the responsibility of our communities, synagogues, schools, and camps to draw on the essence of this mitzvah in making our communities welcoming and inclusive of the deaf.