Is communication a skill or tool?


A couple days ago, while catching up with some much needed email, I stumbled upon an interesting email posted on the Nucleus Forum, which is for those who have received a Cochlear Implant – about a Connecticut Mother going on the defense of her 12 year old Son’s “interim swim coach” for having, a total disregard for her Son’s hearing impairment.

This young man’s Mother is furious, that her Son is being denied a fighting chance to communicate with the current interim coach of the swim team. However, previous coaches on the team and fellow teammates have never had a problem with communicating with the young man, who has showed signs of being an accomplished competitive swimmer.

Her Son wears a Cochlear Implant, a device, that is far greater, than today’s hearing aid technology and has to be surgically implanted in the inner ear by a qualified surgeon. I myself have a Cochlear Implant and as does radio talk show personality Rush Limbaugh.

I lost my own hearing at the young and ripe age of three and four perspective in both my left and right ears in 1968-‘69. I have come a long way in understanding, what life has given me in having a disability. I’m not physically disabled, as I can walk, talk, swim, jump, ride a bike and all the daily things a normal life can enjoy – but, hearing the daily rituals of nature and the hearing world is a completely different monster than Freddy Kruger on Elm Street.

Communication has always been the barrier between those with normal hearing and those with a hearing loss. Many folks aren’t really educated about what hearing loss is – but, their conclusions is always the simple thing – “they can’t hear!”

Actually, it’s the opposite, those with a hearing loss can hear and communicate effectively with those who have the misconception of accepting the fact they can become the most important communications tool in a deaf and hard of hearing person’s life, if they learn to educate themselves on how to communicate between the two cultures.

Simple tools of the trade are widely available at one’s dispersal, if they are willing to use it to accommodate the benefits of those with a hearing loss? If they choose not to use them, life becomes a political boiling point where the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) comes into play in accommodating those with such disabilities, as hearing loss and more.

The ADA by the way is a Federal Law that protects those with disabilities and brings in a broader range of rights to those with disabilities.

The simple tools of the trade can be as easy as a pencil, pen and paper or an erase board with erasable ink or taking a class in American Sign Language is importantly easy as learning your ABC’s with finger spelling. In fact, I didn’t learn ASL until I was in junior high school from grades 7 thru 9th grade.

I have always wondered why people with normal hearing have always viewed those with hearing loss or any other kind of disability as a triad of urgency, an unjustified disgrace and a victim of bulling as well. People with disabilities are human, as those with normal hearing. The disgrace and bully tactics of those with such impairments not complicates their lives more, but also frustrates those trying to make their lives as simple as possible without distraction, novelty and fanfare.

In the forty three years, that, I have learned about my hearing impairment, I have come to learn, there are many more with hearing loss around the world. It degrades the fact, that many talented people have been passed on for other’s with similar experiences and traits and better excuses from those in the hearing world. It’s just the opposite – those with a hearing loss can function as well, as those with normal hearing, you would be amazed at how many of these talented people with a hearing loss can achieve such success with their own disabilities.

Think Actress Marlee Matlin, who appeared in the movie the “Children of a Lesser god” with Actor William Hurt, she later went on and had her own network show about a police or attorney specialist with the District Attorney’s Office defending those with a wide range of cases – even her ASL interpreter also starred in the show along side her.

I hope this young man mentioned earlier about having a rift with his interim swim coach can find some dialogue in making life easier for the two foes, rather than beating a dead horse to the ground. The coach needs a learning curve in communication and technology.

He could make life easier for himself, if he came to terms of accepting the young man’s talents and abilities as person and competitive swimmer, life would be much earlier for the two foes and their enemies could be healed to peacetime efforts and forgiveness and misunderstanding.

But it seems to me the recreational board seems to be playing along as the “Scrooge” of Sam’s swimming abilities as a competitive swimmer on a recreational swim team. This young man deserves a fighting chance and a medal of honor for standing up for his right to compete on his team.

I remember a story back in the 1970’s of a young college student named, “RUDY”, his story was based on a true story realizing his dream to play football for Norte Dame, even though he was the shortest of all the players on the team, his fellow teammates rallied behind him and showed support and strong objections of the school’s coach for not letting him play in the four years he had been in college – He finally played and helped his team win the game. Rudy was the ONLY player in the school’s history to be carried off the field for a historic moment as the players and the crowd chanted “Rudy” numerous times until the head coach finally caved in to the crowd, he went in for two plays and the rest was written in history.

Sam’s plight can see the same visions, if he see’s through the same tunnel as Rudy did on that historic day at Norte Dame, he’ll be just as successful in his endeavors as an accomplished swimmer.

Keep the faith and it will heal the wonders of life – it’s that simple with common sense.

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