Let's start from the beginning. There is no way that Gallaudet University can enforce a rule that whoever enters the campus must sign only. A near impossibility. Firstly, those who are hearing or have some hearing loss (i.e. mild/moderate, with hearing aid) should not be made to feel that they cannot use their own voice at a table at, for example, one of Gallaudet University's eateries while dining with another hearing person or two. This "hearing space" is really about using one's own voice to communicate and not about a "hearing" status per se. It should be called "Open Zone" or something similar instead because there are people with hearing loss who prefer or are more comfortable in using his/her own voice or are in a position where you have non-signers and must use voice to communicate.
Now, second question, should these "Hearing Space" designations come to fruition on campus will these designated areas allow people with hearing loss to use it as well so they can talk instead of signing? Suppose a group of hard of hearing people with their hearing aids prefer to go to these designated areas? Should this "Hearing Space" only be available for hearing people? What about people with hearing loss who grew up talking and listening with their hearing aids (or in this case nowadays cochlear implants) who have no problem in having oral discussions with other people?
But to have a designated lounge room or a designated area where people are free to talk without fear for reprisal or scorn reminds me of this picture below:
|Water fountains with "white" and "colored" signs above them|
Right now I am unclear if this "Hearing Space" would be more like having a designated lounge, sort of like a teacher lounge. Or does this "space" include a designated spot at one of the dining or eatery places on campus such as Rathskellar or the Marketplace? More clarification is needed on exactly what this "Hearing Space" entails.
What about people who talk on their cell phones on the campus of Gallaudet University? The moment a hearing or hard of hearing person picks up his cell phone to answer it while on campus at Gallaudet University in a pubic place is essentially creating his/her own "hearing space" to begin with. And, yes, Gallaudet University is a public place and talking on a cell phone isn't a crime. Will people be encouraged to use these segregated but designated "hearing spaces" just so they can talk on the cell phones without fear for reprisal or scorn? Or heaven forbid lose their job because somebody caught a hearing teacher talk on her cell phone in Rathskellar? Or have hard of hearing students earn their Scarlett Letter 'A' for daring to use his cell phone to talk while at the Marketplace?
Believe it or not I've actually witnessed an interpreter who received a phone call on his cell phone and proceeded to talk out in the open near the Marketplace. But he signed while he talked. Does this make it any better? It was rather odd that for a private and personal call he'd make his discussion publicly known for all those "eavesdroppers." Oh, sure, people will say it's about "respect" but I don't see it that way any more than people signing what they've just texted for all "eavesdroppers" to see.
A discussion among people at a table (e.g. the Marketplace) is usually a private affair and whatever they say shouldn't be of any interest to outsiders, deaf or hearing. Eavesdropping is disrespectful. This isn't about communication access among deaf people but rather about the relative privacy of communication in a public place.
I liked what Joseph P. Rioto had to say commenting about this so called "Hearing Space" (see third comment):
I would suggest that the university takes a hard look at the concept of pluralism. Although the word is not mentioned explicitly, the concept of pluralism is very obvious in the resolution that was adopted by the International Congress on Education of the Deaf (ICED) 2010 last summer. The resolution says to respect all languages and forms of communication. I do not need to elaborate the possible consequences if the university chooses not to abide by the resolution. Some of the arguments that I have seen apparently want to reject or greatly restrict the resolution and that is a serious matter.Respect for all languages and forms of communication goes both ways. Restricting them for the sake of ideology could lead to intolerance and discrimination by turning Gallaudet University into, as Joseph P. Rioto puts it, "a cathedral that is dedicated to the god of ASL." How far is too far? Until this "Hearing Space" is clarified we'll have a better grasp on exactly who brought up this idea and what issues drove people to suggest this "Hearing Space."