[bct] Re: Podcast on comparing JAWS and Window-Eyes

  • From: Slythy_Tove <mcg907@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: blindcooltech@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Thu, 2 Feb 2006 18:19:48 -0800 (PST)

Hi Neal,

Nothing can replace normal hearing.  At least not now.  Maybe in a hundred 
years, providing technology continues to advance, but not now.  The first time 
I wore an aid it was like listening to someone holler down a rainbarrel and it 
fit so badly I had a sore on my ear.  Now it is a godsend to me and I have a 
new hypoallergenic ear mold that doesn't give me ear infections.  Still, I 
don't know what it is like to hear like normal folks because I can't remember a 
time when I could hear with both functional ears, although before 18 months of 
age that was the case.  My mother did not confirm my hearing impairment until I 
was about three - they could not decide if I was deliberately disobedient or a 
space cadet until she played the "whispering game" with me and I kept asking 
her to whisper in my other ear. 

A good hearing aid specialist (not a discount store) will have an audiologist 
with a master's or doctorate in the field who will realistically describe what 
you can and can't get back.  It is easier for those who lose hearing as adults 
because at least their brains understand what sound is and can accomodate more 
of it, unlike folks like me who never really knew.  In my case I am also losing 
the ability to discriminate fricatives (sh, th, etc.) but I seem to be 
rebounding a bit with the new aid, so that's great. 

Hearing aids augment everything.   The rattle of a newspaper - boy, was I 
suprised how much noise they made - and human voices.  The good ones - the 
highly expensive computer adjusted aids - have the best filtering on them but 
can cost several thousand dollars and ear and can do a lot to home in on the 
sound spectrum of the human voice.  Since I only have one functional ear I get 
by with a lower cost but I have no stereo hearing and the bi-cross aids are not 
available in the very high end digital aids.  I have had bi-cross aids before 
and it was wierd to look to my left to respond to a sound when I have never 
done that before - but the wire running through my hair got old and then they 
got lost.  

As to why the government favors the blind with jobs, I suspect the blind have 
long been considered so incompetent that the government has to give them jobs 
and they need tax exemptions.  That's an awful thing to say, but it is likely 
the truth. I don't know why the loss of sight is considered so much worse than 
the loss of hearing.  Maybe because way back when the deaf guy could outrun the 
saber toothed llion but the blind guy could not.  Who knows?  I do know, 
however, that being deaf (total) is like being dumped on Mars without knowing 
how to speak Martian and there is not necessarily a rosetta stone to find out.  
Still, people have managed to cobble out trade languages from signs for time 
out of mind, so deaf are probably considered better able to cope than blind.  

The deaf were more likely to be considered retarded or mentally ill and were 
more likely to be locked up in insane houses because they can't talk and they 
can't communicate with hearing people unless some parent or some enlightened 
person along the way has figured out that they are deaf.  I used to date a man 
who was considered retarded until age 7 - when they found out he was completely 
deaf.  The blind were not treated well either, but at least they could 
communicate in the same language as those around them - unless they had the 
misfortune to be deaf as well - a double whammy.  I still hear people refer to 
deaf persons who use sign as "dummies" as if they are mentally retarded.  

Unfortunately, both deaf and blind are sometimes impaired in communication 
skills because the deaf have sign language which is not the same as English and 
the blind have braille, which in its higher forms, is also not the same as 
English.  Many of the deaf and blind don't use the same grammar and spelling as 
the rest of the country and are therefore considered uneducated.  It is not 
true, it is just the perception, just as the uneducated foreigner is a myth.  
Were the sighted to have to deal with braille they'd be illiterate.  I'm 
probably one of the few sighted people who ever learned braille because I had a 
blind friend I wrote to.  And he was so kind he never told me I punched the 
braille in backwards.  (wince)  I never found out until Dan learned braille.  

I don't know why the nation does not give the deaf or quads or paras or 
retarded folk the same sort of treatment, but it does not.  I don't see it 
happening any time soon, so I am not really going to sweat it more than I have 
to because I've had to struggle with this all my life and I'm sorta used to it 
- although somewhat irate from time to time.  

On the other hand, I think the deaf get better accomodation regarding closed 
captioning whereas the blind get the shaft on descriptive video.  


Other related posts: