Reading a good book is a divine activity. It is entertaining, motivating, stimulating, inspiring, develops creativity, and encourages developing one’s own personality. Sitting in a corner of a room you can enjoy the beauty of the Himalayas and Alps; you can hear the roaring sound of Brahma Putra, the graciousness of Ganga, the beauty of Cauvery and Sharavathi. The reader is taken to a transcendental state of mind if he involves deeply in the book. The Poles come near you. The waves of the Pacific and Atlantic can be experienced nicely. The Civilization of the past and the present will be at your fingertips. The Culture will be just next door. The creative imagination of the world is transformed into the literature which takes the reader to the world of ecstasy. Let the luxury of reading be there for everybody who aspires to be creative informed and better citizens of the world.
Reading is not a natural activity like speech. A person has to develop the habit of reading. It is certainly a very difficult habit to develop. The importance of reading to acquire knowledge is one of the paramount methods to acquire an appropriate, accurate, timely, grammatically correct piece of information for all type of people.
The importance of reading assumes a special significance with reference to the deaf and hard of hearing. It may not be possible for all the deaf and hard of hearing children to acquire various types of knowledge from the social and societal environments where they are living or through listening as there is a limitation to listening as they are hearing impaired. The visual media which is the other main form of acquiring knowledge has its own limitation. Visual without Audio is the most dangerous method of acquiring knowledge. The visuals represent a situation of a particular time and do not express itself what is the significance of that. If a child sees the photo of the twin tower fire tragedy of 11th September 2001, the child may draw an inference that it was an accident instead of inferring that it was sabotage of the terrorists. (I remember a warning of Wg. Cdr. Late K K Srinivasan; founder President of the Parents’ Association of Deaf Children, Mysore that the hearing impaired children should never be exposed to visual media without the supervision of elders.
The rationale being the child by looking at the visual media will form its own opinion which may be wrong, and then the responsibility of the tutor doubles. First, the tutor has to remove the wrong concept which would have entered into the child’s mind which is really very hard to remove as the first impression to a person is the best impression and secondly to introduce the right concept to the child). Therefore words are the best form of sharing the information of an incident to others. The meaning conveyed in a sentence has a definite meaning and will not change with the changing times. Therefore A good article written by a neutral person gives a proper picture of any incident accurately and correctly.
What are the ways available for acquiring knowledge?
The five sensory organs are the windows to our knowledge. Human being’s sense of Vision and Listening has developed to its peak. However, the other sensory organs play a vital role in acquiring knowledge and the visual and hearing impaired community should develop various skills to utilize the other senses. Just to share a piece of information, Helen Keller had a very good sense of touch and she had even utilized the sense of smell to a large extent. In the present day as vision and hearing are primarily used to impart the knowledge I am limiting my article to these two sensory organs.
I have already commented on the limitation of Visual media. To add further I understand that the visuals goes to the hind portion of our brain, which has less retention power in relation to the mid brain. To explain this idea, while we are going in a bus if we peep through the window, thousands of visuals fall on our eyes but if you do not pay attention it will not be recorded in our brain. On the other hand even without intention some sounds which are falling on ears we may forget the words but the sound remains in the mind for a long time. Many whose mother tongue is different or who is not familiar with a language would have forgotten the words of a song sung by a famous singer which he would have heard while travelling in a cab but the tune will be lingering in the human mind for ever. This is the major difference between vision and hearing.
The deaf and the hard of hearing children are deprived of this luxury. It is highly difficult for them to acquire knowledge by listening to the social environment. A Vegetable Vendor who goes in the street utters the names of the Vegetables and it will be falling on the ears of the listener even if he is locked inside the four walls. There will be continuous repetition for a normal person about the names of vegetables. This is a limitation for Hearing Impaired. The normal person is able to remember a spoken word or sentence formation in the right way as that word or sentence will be falling on the ears at regular frequent intervals. But as this luxury is not available what is the other alternative for a hearing-impaired person. The best available alternative hearing impaired has is ‘Reading’ and he/she has to develop the skill of “Reading”. This is the only source through which the hearing impaired will have the luxury of repetition. Words and sentence formation repeats regularly. In addition, the words or sentence formations are used in various contexts and the Hearing impaired will have an opportunity to imagine and draw an inference or draw conclusions on the various situations which happen around him.
An alphabet of any language is a graphical depiction of sound patterns. But the pictorial alphabet is not sensitive about the sound. This is a major problem for the hearing impaired and this is a limitation in writing also. To overcome this limitation the writers try to picture the entire situation by detailing every bit of that situation. The writers use various adjective forms to picturize the tone and mood of the situation. Hence by reading, the hearing impaired, as he cannot effectively listen gets a fair picture if not cent percent understanding of the situation. Therefore the hearing impaired reading is the best substitute for listening. With constant reading an individual’s vocabulary increases. The increase in the vocabulary of a reader helps him to acquire knowledge that is authentic and reliable. Therefore as this is a supplement to listening for the deaf and the hard of hearing has to be trained in a systematic manner to acquire the skill of reading which will go a long way in alleviating the problems of the Hearing impaired and reduces his dependence on individuals who may be providing half-baked knowledge. That is why I have deliberated in the article about reading.
Reading as stated earlier is a habit which just has to be cultivated with specific interest for the same. Reading and remembering what is read is really a gigantic task. Here I just want to quote an example of stage actor who finds it difficult to remember a lengthy dialogue of a drama. But the same actor reads the entire passage, understands the same, also the expectation of a director and make attempt to show in his action without delivering a single dialogue conveys the full meaning of the passage. To write one action or expression of an actor, several pages has to be written. As the hearing impaired may not be able to draw a right meaning of the situation and action there is no choice for the hearing impaired, the writing gives an elaborate picture of the situation and the reader can perceive the situation effectively. Keeping these ideas in background I feel and just conclude saying that reading is the best activity for anybody to cultivate and more so for hearing impaired as it is the only reliable source for information and knowledge.
Committee Member, Parents Association of Deaf Children, Mysore.