Deaf/Blindness & Changing consciousness
  • RobinRobin
    Posts: 11
    I can hear, but my wife is deafened (so she can speak but not hear). She speaks in words to me, I sign to her. Sometimes (e.g. making complex arrangements) written communication with words is easiest, but for general conversation, signs are more convenient, although (or perhaps even because?) they are more ambiguous. I have quite a lot of contact with the deaf, and have found their culture to be much more person centric, more direct and less abstract than that of hearing people. Less 'consumerist', less focused on details and complexities of objects and more focused on relationships and shared experience. My left brain take on this was that because communication is harder, it is given more of a priority. Having read the book, I think perhaps they are more in their right minds - perhaps it's us "normal" people who are hung up on words/objects/details. Perhaps their being a spearate culture has shielded them to some extent from the madness of modernity.

    Signing seems to me a more right brain, creative activity. I don't know that many signs, so a lot of my signing is imitative - needs good observation/imitation activity. My language is a lot more creative when signing, I am less bound by conventional grammatical rules and make broad use of facial expressions and gestures. This may partly reflect the years I had in school learning grammar, as opposed to my free learning environment for sign language, but some of it is also the language structure itself. Sign seems to me less left-brain bound than ordinary language (c.f. Pirahã, which has fewer phonemes and simpler grammar than most and is often sung rather than spoken).

    On a couple of occasions I have had a chance to communicate with a deaf-blind person (by holding hands and using an a fairly ad hoc sign language). Normal sign language (for me) is text based - so still fairly left brain - whereas the communication I've had with deaf/blind has been more or less transcending words, a more atavistic level than symbolic language. Conversation has been necessarily very rudimentary, but - perhaps like hearing one's child's first words (I don't know, I have no children) the experience of communication has been very joyous, moving me to tears and leaving me in a different state of mind. Less frustrated at the difficulty of communication than I would have expected, much more overwhelmed at what an amazing thing communication is, and joy that it is possible at all. No melatonin or right brain measurements made, but this is a possible direction for research.

    So, is anyone on these forums deaf? Does anyone sign? Have these ideas been introduced to a deaf readership? If so, I would be very interested to know what they made of them.