Hear Me: An immersive experience for greater understanding
An experience is specifically designed to bring those from a hearing culture and deaf culture together to learn about each other and bring a greater understanding to each other.
Faculty Award for Original & Faculty Award for Desirable
In this project, I am proposing to develop an immersive experience for those whom are Deaf or have a hearing loss, with those whom can hear. Presently, in the Deaf community, there has been a controversy to providing infants with a cochlear implant. A cochlear implant is, “an electronic medical device that does the work of damaged parts of the inner ear (cochlea) to provide sound signals to the brain.” (Source 1) Cochlear implants are known to give those with a hearing loss some acquisition of sound and eliminate some signs of developmental delays. (Source 7) Some believe, “The cochlear implant controversy, therefore, involves questions about the nature of the disability and the definition of “normal” bodies and also raises arguments about the nature and significance of culture and the rights of minority cultures.” (Source 7) Often this is a controversy that is only concerning those who are dealing with this issue directly. Creating a very isolating experience between new parents and their child. Often, “When talking to hearing persons about the cochlear implant, the single biggest barrier to their understanding the hostility of many Deaf persons towards it is an inability to comprehend that deafness could be perceived as anything other than a tragic loss and a disability.” (Source 7)
Most parents desire to make the best of their child’s life. Hearing parents, “In particular, they objected to the choice being made on behalf of young children to insert the implant. These critics reject the very idea of trying to find a “cure” for deafness. Indeed they have compared it to genocide. They argue that deaf people should not be thought of as disabled but as members of a minority cultural group.” (Source 7) Deaf people being thought of as minorities are not talked about in general. In particular between those in the Deaf community and those in the hearing community, generally because of a lack of ability to communicate with each other. Or, the idea of understanding.
I am proposing an immersive experience similar to experiences we have seen before, but geared towards a specific audience, with the goal of feeling more connected and understanding of each other. It would be set up as a friend matchmaking service so that the motivation would be more intrinsic based. The experience would first attract new parents looking to connect. New parents, deaf or hearing are often seeking connections with others and trying to find new answers, since they are all dealing with a new experience. Children, hearing or not are more social and emotional adjusted when they belong to a larger community who supports them. This allows for the kids to have higher rates of language acquisition, among accessing the world in a new way.
However, this immersive experience is specifically designed to bring those from a hearing culture and deaf culture together to learn about each other and bring a greater understanding to each other. It would be an hour. First, there would be 4 minutes of staring into each other’s eyes with no other forms of communication, similar to the video here. Next, the participants would ask each other these 36 questions, designed to create a sense of deeper intimacy. But instead of the last question being, “36. Share a personal problem and ask your partner’s advice on how he or she might handle it. Also, ask your partner to reflect back to you how you seem to be feeling about the problem you have chosen.” The question would be, “36. My child has a hearing loss and how would you handle it. Also, ask your partner to reflect back to you how you seem to be feeling about this question.” (Source 2)
This experience is very similar, if not almost exactly like the examples. But, would take into account the abilities of every participant. If there were those who were blind, there would even be the capacity to participate. For those without verbal communication, there could be the app, Ava, a platform created to increase communication and maintain intimacy without a translator.
This poster would be displayed in hospitals. And, if possible given to all deaf parents, and hearing parents with a child experiencing hearing loss.Or, to be included in a packet as an extra resource for infants who did not pass the newborn screening hearing test. This experience in seeking to find an innate common ground among parents, in which a system would match those with differing views unknowingly, and the experience itself aims to develop a human connection and understanding of the other person.
Images are all by Alethea Campbell
Fonts used are: Adequate Light, Dsylexie, and Philing Braille Normal
Course: Harvard University, Design Survivor, Designing for Desirability
*Please note, the following challenge was a short-term design experiment.