Friday, November 2, 2012

Hearing Enough to be angerous?

When I was a Rehab. Teacher and knew a lot of people in the blind community we had a saying.  It was (he or she) "has just enough sight to be dangerous."  This referred to people who understandably did not want to be recognized as blind.  They had good reasons in addition to fear.  But it could lead to terrible or harsh consequences.  I had a client who had no depth perception.  I spoke with her about how using a cane would show her how seep a step was, and Where it was, Before she fell from it.  We talked about carrying a white cane as a means of signaling drivers that they needed to watch out for her and, hopefully not do anything stupid like running red lights when she was crossing a street at the proper time, etc.  She absolutely refused to have Anything to do with a white cane.  This was her right and I respected it.  But the next time I visited her she was in a long leg cast from a fall which cane use would have prevented.  The next time I mentioned a cane she cussed me out.  But she did it in a way that I didn't take as personal.  This is an example of "having just enough sight to be dangerous."

Another is someone who can no longer see to drive safely and hits a person or car as a result, causing injuries.  I always had Very High Respect for Ann because when she began backing into the wheelchair ramp at our mobile home or into the home itself, she quickly stopped driving.  That was a painful and difficult thing to do.  But she did it to protect people.  It took a year or so before she was ready to sell her car.  But she had the courage to face her depression and grief about being forced to give up driving so she wouldn't hurt or kill anyone.

When I go to Deaf Chat, as I did for the second time tonight, I've noticed that as the noise level increases my memory of signs seems to fly away.  I am still Trying to function like a hearing blind person.  Am I safe?  Are there angry drunken voices near?  Are those people fighting?  All of these things I used to almost Instantly know by Listening.  Is someone approaching me?  Who is near?  But now all I can hear is a frightening jumble of noise.  So I try to listen Harder, to sort it out, impossible!  As someone who survived abuse, I learned when to clear out of a situation or how best to difuse it, (if possible) by paying Very close attention to voices and their tons.  Now I can't do this in a crowd.  But doing this is a lifelong habit and the only way I know how to break it is by removing both hearing aids, NOT in a Crowd of Strangers!  Then I'd probably be so scared I don't know what I'd do! 

But when I leave the hearing aids in and the noise gets loud I can't remember ASL nearly so well as in a quiet environment like a class.  I can hear the speech of a deaf person who signs and speaks if they sit directly in front of me, but that's it.  I don't know if keeping my hearing aids in is a danger to me, except that I might say something unintentionally rude in ASL, because my attention is split and struggling to make sense of a visual language, (ASL) and a terribly confusing noisy environment.  If someone slaps my hands or tells me to wash them out with soap I guess I'll know I've said something Very rude!

Some deaf-blind people (Who Have Some Vision) prefer a "deaf world" where noises don't intrude on them.  But with no vision I structure my life as carefully as possible, so that I'm Not multi-tasking.  I can listen to a book and sew or wash dishes, but I tend to talk to people one at a time, because that is the most Easy way to understand them, whether they speak ASL, TASL, English, Spanish, (I know a little) or Cherokee (I know a few words or phrases).  I cannot talk on the phone and do something else, have to concentrate on hearing.  So, I'm not sure how to deal with a crowd.  There are still some circumstances in which hearing would help, some emergencies.  But all the subleties I used to know are gone.  Maybe I'll work up the courage to remove hearing aids someday in a group with an interpreter, or maybe I will just get so deaf it doesn't matter.  I can still tell my friends things about the characters of some politicians though, if I listen to them alone via the radio or TV.

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