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Tag Archives: communication

The term handicap has become a thorn in the side of the English language.  It is one of the words most associated with the argument of political correctness. So what is a handicap?

I read on CNN’s Young People Who Rock about a young fellow, Sean Forbes, who performs music videos with American Sign Language for the Deaf Community. He is an inspiration to the Deaf Community and he brings to them a piece of the world most people never expected they could have. Below the passage there are a number of comments flaming the mention of deafness as a disability [handicap]. In my mind a handicap is something that significantly alters the way a person experiences society. The Deaf Community is indeed a culture. ASL is the third most used language in the United States. But it is impossible to say that when outside of the Deaf Community communicating can be a struggle. I have taken a course in ASL, but having not actually sought out situations to use it, I have only used it once in the four years since I first started. People who have speaking difficulties are often considered to have disabilities or handicaps, but it merely a communication barrier. Perhaps that is why deafness is not considered a handicap because it is a communication barrier similar to the growing English-Spanish barrier. But then speaking difficulties should not be disabilities.

It is impossible to toss around the word handicap or disability without making someone angry. It is almost as if the terms themselves make people lesser than others. They are social categorizations similar to race. Ultimately, I must agree that deafness is not a handicap, but such a term can only be defined in the eye of the beholder. If I went to Russia could not someone say I am handicapped?

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As a volunteer at a hospital’s pediatric emergency room, I read books to children and gave some books away to the younger children as a part of a program. I basically had the responsibility to enter the rooms on my own when doctors and nurses were not perfoming their duties. One evening, I came into a room to give a boy a book. Two men were in the room as well, one I assume was the boy’s father. Each of them were deaf. Thankfully I took an American Sign Language course in high school, although the importance of those lessons didn’t sink in until now. I probably looked completely shocked while I shaped my hand and arms to ask “he want b-o-o-k?” I knew the sign for want, but not book so I spelled that out. The guy gave me a thumbs up. I hope that meant good job, or at the very least ok he can have a book. Unfortunately I didn’t have the same success when confronted with Spanish. I would advise anyone working in a hospital to learn as much about communication as possible.

The words of Michael Savage led me to creating another sonic sez (says) video. This time I wanted to contribute to the awareness of Autism. Certainly difficult to understand, a lot of people have misconceptions about what autism is. There is no excuse for what Savage said and my video will hopefully inspire some people to learn about autism. It doesn’t have in-depth information, but I think it suffices for a video done on a whim. The definition I use in the video is from http://www.assew.org/what_is_autism.htm. I think i have a little more humor in this one simply because Savage set himself up to be cracked on.

An especially special friend of mine spoke with me about the uselessness of primary care physicians. And almost had me, but something came to mind when I read an article in the July 2, 2008 edition of the JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association) by Dr. Michael Stillman. My friend presented me with the idea that general care physicians are not always very knowledgable about ailments or certain health problems that specialists would know. I had a personal experience that comes under this category. However, when the patient of a primary care physician is ill or injured, the primary care physician will know the patient well. One of the most important aspects of health care that is commonly overlooked is knowing the patient. Often such luxury is not possible with the busy schedule of doctors, or the lack of need to see certain doctors. Nonetheless, it can influence care dramatically. Dr. Stillman gave an example in his article where the medications of a patient had been changed to a more expensive regimen without his knowledge. The prescribing doctor would not have know that the patient could never afford those medications, but Dr. Stillman knew and prescribed the original, less-costly, and equally effective regimen.  A number of other issues come up as well when identifying the importance of primary care physicians. When making an important medical decision, trust between a patient and the doctor becomes essential. Patients, even if are under the care of a specialist may want to consult a phyiscian with whom they are familiar before making an important decision. Primary Care doctors may not necessarily save lifes, but they can certian help people maintain the highest quality of life possible. So with the greatest level of respect possible, I disagree with my friend [I will convince her I am right, and if she happens to read this before I try the art of persuasion…] (citation: JAMA July 2, 2008 p.21-22).