Since Tuesday was election day in the U.S.A. and I saw this article from New Zealand that talks about deaf on juries. Sign language interpreters are making it possible for the deaf to do jury duty.
I remember a few years ago reading about a court that had technology so a deaf jurist could read the text. That’s my kind of solution. I’ve been called to jury duty about five times or so and got out every time because of my deafness. No, no, I’d be glad to do my patriotic duty. The court didn’t have a way for me to follow along, so they let me go.
This is where some say I should learn sign language. Then all the court would need to do is bring on an interpreter and it would help in other situations. Well, first of all, getting an interpreter isn’t always an easy process.
The second reason is I don’t want sign language to become a crutch. I’ve seen several intelligent deaf people who grew up orally like I did learn sign language later in life only to withdraw from oral conversations. Their speech quality also went down. I talked to someone about this last week and she also knows a couple of people who experienced the same thing: lipreading and speech skills dropping as a result of becoming more fluent in sign language.
Considering the majority of my world is hearing, I’m better off doing things the hard way: lipreading and speaking. That’s my reason for not learning sign language. By the way, I did take a sign language course in college (accidentally got into the class, not because I wanted to learn it) and I got Cs in that class. I was not a C student in college as I graduated with a decent GPA. For some unknown reason, I didn’t like the professor.
While in that class, we took a field trip to Gallaudet University and toured the college. We also had a speaker who spoke to the class using sign language with an interpreter on the side who spoke for him. Naturally, I was looking at the interpreter because I had to lipread. This is considered rude as the listener should look at the deaf person. Well, if I do that, I can’t hear a thing he says.
The speaker caught me looking at the interpreter and noted it in front of the class. I explained why and he went about his speech.