Of all the things that divide people of age, gender, religious preference, or abilities, it is the art that touches every person’s humanistic instincts and creates unity amidst diversity of perception. Visual, auditory, and performing arts are appreciated by the population regardless of the language it speaks or of the principles and culture on the receiving end. However, the appreciation of these arts could be distinct and difficult for those who are persons with disability or have sensory impairment.
For instance, as what this blog is about, the Deaf can not hear and therefore cannot perceive sound as it is.
A study conducted by Dean Shibata and colleagues of the University of Washington in 2001 proved that the Deaf may not hear sound, but they can perceive it through vibrations. All the subjects in the experiment, half of which are Deaf and half are Hearing, showed activity in their auditory cortex, an area in the brain that is used for hearing. According to Sari Levanen, a member of the team who performed the study, the brain converts the auditory cortex into a vibration-processing center as a mode of adaptation to the loss of function of one of its parts. To put it into simpler words, the Deaf can interpret these vibrations and perceive them as sound and/or music.
This breakthrough leads to suggestions that Deaf children could be exposed in an early age to vibrations so they could later learn to decode speech sounds and music. This now eradicates the myth that the Deaf cannot and will never hear and appreciate music.
Historically speaking, Beethoven’s performance of Ninth Symphony in 1824 was well received by the audience despite not actually hearing the song he was playing. He did not know how well he did until he saw the audience stand and applause in appreciation. Beethoven was born hearing and started to gradually lose it on the age of 30. It did not stop him from being a talented musician though; his talent extended from composing great sounds to experiencing music in his own head, as if actually listening to it.
My point in all of this is, to put it simply, music can be enjoyed by both the Deaf and the Hearing. It is a universal language that speaks to everyone regardless of how the receiving end obtains it.
Since it is now established that everyone can perceive and enjoy music, it is time to acknowledge this similarity of the Deaf and the Hearing more than their difference. We, as members of the society, should put a stop to divisive actions and activities and start uniting for once, or maybe not just once. We should start treating each other as equal, no matter what the differences are.
In line with this, NMS-Cares will be conducting its very first Deaf Festival on May 19-21, 2017, encouraging the Deaf and the Hearing community to participate to have a better perspective on each other’s culture. There will be different kinds of activities such as cooking contest, art exhibit and many more! This is going to be a great event for both communities to interact and share experiences.
Invite your friends to these events after reading this article!