Enabling Technology


A place for us to talk about the video Sound and Fury. Try the comment field as a way to have an online discussion. I have restricted this page to only us.

This is a very disturbing and controversial video. Though I don’t think we can begin to understand the issue from the point of view of the families in the video, see if you can find an analogy to help us understand how they feel.


One of the analogies in the movie definitely shocked me a bit: Peter’s father told him that not allowing Heather to have a cochlear implant was similar to a family of people with broken/disabled limbs breaking the legs of their child to keep the child in the same culture. Woah! I need to do some more thinking and reflection on the movie, but I was wondering what you all thought of this analogy from the movie.

Kirstin -- Monday, February 13, 2006 at 01:56 PM

Yes, Kirstin, I found that shocking and over the top. Off the mark too. The parent he described is actively disabling his child while his son was allowing his child to remain disabled. That seems different to me.

That said, I don’t think anyone would hesitate to get a prosthesis for their child who was missing a foot. No one, I think, would say “God made him without a foot you should accept him as he is”.

GaryBishop -- Tuesday, February 14, 2006 at 11:35 AM

I agree that the analogy in the movie was over the top and a bit off the mark. As another very common analogy along the lines of what you pointed out:

Many children have degrading eyesight that can be corrected with something as simple as glasses or contacts to allow the child to see properly. I’m not so sure that many parents would simply allow the child to develop increasingly poor eyesight when it can be corrected so easily. I know I wouldn’t have wanted my parents to deny me the ability to see more clearly.

I suppose one of the big things that stood out in the movie to me was that the definition of a handicap was extremely delicate. People who are hearing impaired took a great pride in their uniqueness and felt a strong connection to the “Deaf community.” I can understand the fear that Heather’s parents had that she would learn to speak/hear and forget about her roots and identity. However, it seemed that there may be some way to strive toward some balance of being a member of both communities, particularly because she herself expressed a desire to do so.

Kirstin -- Tuesday, February 14, 2006 at 12:50 PM

Kristin, I agree one of the ideas in the movie that stood out the most to me was the sensitivity related to the Deaf culture. I was a little sad during the movie thinking that new technology will render such a beautiful culture obsolete. Even still, I thought that forcing their children into a diminishing culture was… unfair, I guess? I feel like even with a lot of people in the Deaf community sticking strongly to their culture, as technology keeps improving, more children with hearing disabilities will be enabled to hear.

Deaf culture is kind of like people who speak a foreign language without a native country. Immigrants must learn the language of their new home or remain isolated in areas that speak their own language. Just as immigrants can learn a new language to survive in an English-speaking society, children with hearing disabilities now have the ability to learn to speak and hear.

Just as learning a new language does not mean the culture related to the old language has to be forgotten, children can be enabled to hear and speak and still learn the history of their Deaf culture.

Christina -- Tuesday, February 14, 2006 at 11:21 PM

Christina, several adults in the Deaf Community pointed out that children who do get cochlear implants no longer feel as strong a connection to the community as do their peers sans implant. The implant migrates them from deaf culture to hearing culture. You could notice this in the two schools Peter and Nita took Heather to. The one in NJ with students that had implants didn’t interact with her as naturally as those in the Maryland School for the Deaf. You’d think that with kids that young you can teach them multiple languages, so they could learn oral and sign language.

Grandpa Peter said that implants are a cure to deafness, which fits with his view that all handicaps are the same. Did anyone notice that he didn’t use sign language? When he talked to his son Peter, he never used sign language. If my memory is right, the son Peter would sign back to him, so he must have known at least how to read.

Keith -- Wednesday, February 15, 2006 at 01:35 PM

Yeah, I think learning to sign for both hearing and the hearing impaired children is a great idea. In middle school, I remember a woman gave a presentation on sign and passed out little cards with the alphabet in sign language on them. My friends and I learned the alphabet for fun and to communicate with a girl with hearing disabilities at the school. I can still sign the alphabet today, with almost no practice, so learning young definitely works well. I think it would be a fun program to encourage in schools, I wish I learned more than the alphabet.

Christina -- Friday, February 17, 2006 at 12:42 AM

“I was a little surprised that the school in NJ with the students who had received cochlear implants steered so far away from teaching sign language. Children’s minds are very impressionable, and they are fully capable of learning two languages: spoken and sign. I think that having sign as part of the curriculum as well may have left Peter and his wife with a better impression of the school and procedure in general.”

In reference to the comment above and the ongoing discussion of deaf culture – I felt the movie was very clear (albeit not directly stated) of the reasons for the dichotomy of the NJ and Maryland schools.

The parents of the students that attended the NJ school wanted their kids to consider themselves as children without hearing disabilities. They obtained the implants for their children so they could progress unimpeded by their disabilities. They viewed deafness as a bad trait. Being deaf would destroy the opportunities of their child. To this end, they wanted their children to embrace their new-found hearing and form proper speech and language function. In my eyes, I thought the film spoke of this desire by relaying that to learn sign-language is a waste of time. The NJ students, while biologically were still hearing disabled, were taught to enter society speaking and understanding language as a student born without a hearing disability. Although students can and are tought multiple languages concurrently in many schools, I felt that this initiative was more for the parents of the NJ students than the students themselves. The comfort of knowing your child is “normal” and open to all opportunities would put many minds to rest when they view being deaf as a broken leg, as stated above.

The Maryland school however, as in Gretchen’s lecture about model classrooms, made use of the student’s abilities to communicate via an alternative means of communication: sign language. Though the film did not speak of the reason many parents chose this for their children – we know only reason which was to allow deaf culture to continue. Her parents did not view deafness as a problem as Peter did. They both spoke of their success with the disability and in many ways felt it better than being fully able to hear. The need for extraneous technology is not only unneeded, but also unwelcome.

Therefore I think the two schools were used to illustrate the polarized opinion of parents blessed with children with hearing disabilities. Where one side of the fence views the disability as an impediment that should be solved never to be embraced, the other camp understands the problems and works to accomplish all the normal goals of life on a slightly different path.

Doug -- Saturday, February 18, 2006 at 05:17 PM

It interesting that everyone was saying “we’re doing it for the kids” or “in the kids best interest”. Peter & Rita thought that Heather shouldn’t have implants because it was an unnecessary and invasive surgery. Chris and Mary thought that their son Peter should have an implant in order to provide more opportunities later in life. The grandparents said that they knew best because they had experience raising children with and without hearing loss.

It’s easy to see how people have different views on what will make the kids happy. Some want kids to be happy with themselves the way they are, rather than forcing them to get an implant. Some want to foster the positive feelings of inclusion and acceptance by choosing to get them an implant. I guess it’s tough being a parent and having to make decisions like that for people that will affect them and how people treat them throughout their life.

It’d be neat if they came back in 10 years and saw how Heather and Peter are doing when they are in their tweens/teens.

Keith -- Sunday, February 19, 2006 at 09:30 PM