(image description: painting by Nancy Rourke: 5 stylised children sitting in a classroom with hands chained and blindfolded)
First we need to understand audist/audism.
Audism is prejudiced beliefs about Deaf people. For example:
. that hearing people are superior to Deaf people;
. Deaf people should be pitied for having futile and miserable lives;
. not assisting with communication (you’d help a blind person cross the road wouldn’t you? So have a bit of patience communicating.)
. assuming Deaf people can’t do things like drive or get an education or become professionals in their chosen field
. believing Deaf people should become like hearing people as far as possible; and,
. shunning of Sign Languages.
In September 2018 an outrageous audist Call for Paper was published by the World Health Organisation (WHO) (pdf: Bulletin of the World Health OrganizationSeptember2018-18-221697).
The Call for Papers by Dr Shelly Chadha who leads the WHO Programme for Prevention of Deafness and Hearing Loss, wrongly claimed: “Hearing is important for achieving a good quality of life.” This is clearly absurd and incredibly offensive.
Shelly is an Ear Nose and Throat (ENT) doctor with a PhD in public health. She then wrote: “hearing loss is associated with delayed cognitive development in children“. Well yes it is. BUT and it’s a huge BUT, the cause, as Shelly should know is language deprivation because Deaf kids are not given Sign Language. The cause is not due to deafness or difficulty hearing.
By not mentioning this incredibly important fact, Shelly is contributing to the audist abuse of Deaf children’s rights to Sign Language. One third of children, even on a Cochlear Implant Program, do not develop proper language.
Shelly and the WHO should apologise and amend this Call for Papers.
Update 5 Sep 2018: I emailed Shelly on 2 Sept about this saying:
WHO programme for prevention of deafness and hearing loss
Dear Mr Kevin McReady,
Thanks for reaching out to us. At WHO we value your opinion and take it seriously. It is unfortunate that this publication has led to such confusion.
In WHO, we envision a world in which no person experiences hearing loss due to preventable causes and those with hearing loss can achieve their full potential through rehabilitation, education and empowerment. This includes sign language.
We appreciate your feedback and request for submission of papers that highlight the need and effectiveness of sign language.
Shelly and Karen
I emailed back saying:
Dear Kevin McCready
Apologies again for having mis-spelt your name.