MindField was very eye-opening and inspirational. I learned many new things and acquired a new outlook on the Deaf world. The first thing I learned is that ASL is a complex language with a clear grammatical structure. This isn’t an entirely new concept that I am unfamiliar with, but I continue to learn more about it. Before learning ASL and reading MindField, I thought the language was conveyed through picturesque gestures that resembled different words and sayings. It is astounding that ASL uses syntax, parts of speech, and verbs with emotion, facial expressions, and body movement. The second thing I learned was how American Sign Language, Signing Exact English, and English are different to each other. I used to think that American Sign Language was a language made to interpret English. However, ASL is a separate language from English. Additionally, I never had heard of S.E.E. before and thought that it was the same as ASL. However, S.E.E. is used to interpret the English language, while ASL is its own language apart from English. The third thing I learned was the majority of information we acquire is processed through sight. People don’t need to hear in order to understand what another person is saying. Humans can interpret their words through their emotions and body language. A passage from MindField that perfectly explains this point is, “What I want to know about a person is what’s in their heart and, for me, that happens in the blink of an eye” (285).

I thought that MindField was very impressive and I think that anyone who is unfamiliar with Deaf culture should read the book. MindField helped me better understand the Deaf culture and ASL. I was able to take a completely different standpoint and walk in a deaf person’s shoes. The message that I took from the book is being deaf is not a handicap, misfortune, or a birth defect. Deaf people aren’t anything less than normal; in fact, they are unique and lucky in this world.

The unfortunate part is that being deaf has acquired a negative stigma. People think that it would be such a hindrance to be deaf. Doctors and parents of deaf children conform to the outlook of the world and try to fix the “defect”. Halley Weber’s plan of action was to “fix” the deaf people by giving them hearing aids and teaching them speech (222).

MindField had many examples of the negative labels that are put on those who are deaf. One example is the conversation that Nate Bannister had with Hop about becoming deaf from the virus. “I don’t have much time before I lose my hearing like the others, I’ll be deaf and dumb” (155). There were two additional quotes from the book that stunned me. During Gordon Bogg’s presentation of the Hearing Habitats, he said, “Of course, we are working on a cure to reverse the insidious effects of this disease…” (183). The most degrading quote was from Horatio Amburgy while planning a solution to make the people hear again. “It is our mission to make these people productive in society once again. If they can’t hear, they won’t be productive. And, if they can’t talk, they won’t assimilate back into society” (227). It is sad that people think the Deaf community is not capable of functioning in the world without hearing.

MindField also touched on the feelings that people have towards the use of ASL. ASL can be referred to as embarrassing with the use of “flailing” gestures that seems like gibberish to outsiders. Many people think that deaf people should have to learn how to communicate normally since the majority of people talk. People think those of the majority population shouldn’t have to learn a different language for the benefit of the minority.

MindField redefined my outlook on the Deaf community. I used to think that it would be horrible if I couldn’t hear. After reading the book, I feel embarrassed to say that I thought that way. I won’t deny that the world has wonderful sounds. However, what I hear the most is honking horns, curse words, gossip, slander, and ridicule. It doesn’t make sense to me that those who consider themselves privileged use their voices to hurt. At times, I notice that as I listen to someone, I am not really listening. I am always distracted and don’t fully engage myself with the other person. People need to understand that to hear is to see to really know what people are communicating. Life will become much more meaningful when we begin to see.

MindField – http://johnfegbert.com/mindfield/


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