In It Together By John Walker

When the children looked to each other for help.

Chris' thoughts on the benefits of oralism?

Transcript for 'Chris' thoughts on the benefits of oralism?':

JW - I am trying to understand the fact that you went to a 'non-Deaf' school, you went to a school for the partial hearing in fact, but you said you didn't achieve academically. What was the benefit of this type of education for you?

CW - The benefits for me was a greater awareness of the hearing world and being able to 'cope'. But the down side is ... we struggle more because of the lack of access [to the hearing world]. Because at that time, there were no captions on the TV, no minicoms to make telephone calls, no interpreters - the access in those days were non-existent. That is what I have noticed in comparison to other deaf people who went to other schools.

At times, we have compared the differences between different schools and the way we have been educated; it was very different. I was asked whether I could sign and I have said, "oh, definitely not." But when I was asked why, I had to go back to what I was told at school. "You can talk, make the most of it. What's the point of signing if you can talk?" That was the attitude in those days.

JW - None of the children in your school actually signed?

CW - It wasn't allowed ... well, they could sign but it was very hidden. If the teachers saw us signing ... which wasn't the BSL we know of, it was a school sign that we used and created amongst ourselves. If we had access to the Deaf world outside of the school, we would have brought it back to the school - we would have incorporate the 'proper' BSL into our signing. But we didn't because we had no access to the Deaf world. We lived in a segregated, hearing orientated environment.

JW - So what would happen if you were caught signing?

CW - Bed early? Well, it would have been a severe telling off. On occasion, children have been told to go to bed early. Or facing into a wall with your hands behind your back. It wasn't brutal, but they made the point, that we shouldn't be signing, "you can talk". That's how it was.

This page was added on 26/09/2012.

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