As someone who is interested in in speech and debate, I’ve found some effective tools for combatting these problems, in order to create stronger arguments and be a better advocate for deaf causes.
Just as solidarity among people with hearing loss is important, educating the “hearing” population is a significant effort as well. Many of the accessibility issues present in various institutions come from a place of ignorance. One of the best ways to bring awareness to an issue is to bring it to light in a formal environment, such as a meeting with officials, or a public speaking environment.
This means knowing how to structure a speech and how to deliver it are great tools to have.
“One of the best ways to bring awareness to an issue is to bring it to light in a public speaking environment.”
How to increase deaf awareness through a speech starts with deciding on the purpose of your argument. Is your goal to inform or educate, to entertain or persuade? After deciding, choose a general topic area.
Let’s take hearing loss as an example. Afterward, narrow it down and choose a specific thesis. This is the central claim of your argument, and what you’re trying to prove throughout the speech. For instance, the claim: “Ableism in education is a widespread issue that needs to be solved.”
The next step is to decide on a structure for the speech, which should generally consist of three points.
One of the most simplistic yet effective structures is a “topical” structure. In a fairly straightforward manner, this type of argument is made up of three key reasons why your thesis is true. Another useful format is “past, present, future.” This is most useful for purely informative speeches, as it provides a detailed chronology of your topic.
My personal favorite, and the one I believe is the most persuasive, is the “problem, cause, solution” format. After identifying a structure, decide on your three points. If we take the example thesis and use the this format, the points should be fairly easy to pin down. The first point would be something along the lines of “Ableism in education is a widespread issue.” The second point would be the cause. A good example might be “Ableism in education is caused by widespread ignorance and the negative stigmatization of disability.”
The third point would likely be prescriptive in nature, possibly including a call to action, and most importantly, identifying a solution. An example which corresponds to the previous points could be, “This can be solved by teaching educators about accessibility and amplifying positive representation of people with disabilities in media.”
With this structure of a speech, your solution should clearly correspond with your deaf advocacy causes. This can include, “teaching educators about accessibility” addresses “widespread ignorance” and “amplifying positive representation of people with disabilities in media” addresses “negative stigmatization.”
When done effectively, this structure thoroughly explains the issue at hand and addresses the root cause of the problem, identifying a clear cause-effect relationship.
When we put these components together, we get “Ableism in education is a widespread issue that needs to be solved. We’ll be discussing this through three key areas of analysis. First, the problem of ableism in education. Next, the cause. And finally, we’ll turn to a solution.”
This becomes the outline of a speech, a kind of skeleton that can be used as a guide as you write.
The next step is to begin writing the body of the speech. The best place to start is research. The type and depth of research you conduct should be based upon your target audience and the environment you will be speaking in. Start with general information and gradually get more specific. After finding information, make sure you have a way to go back to the source material, such as a URL or copy of the book or article. After amassing a sufficient amount of information on your topic, apply it to your speech.
Go down the outline and plug in quotes, statistics, and information that support the corresponding point in your speech. Make sure to add complete citations and integrate the information smoothly into your rhetoric. Well done research goes a long way towards establishing ethos or credibility in persuasion. This will assure the audience that you know what you’re talking about, and is a vital step to constructing an effective argument.
The last step in composing the speech itself is to begin writing! Here, take the outline you’ve constructed and fill in the gaps. Elaborate on your points in a manner that is both thorough and concise. Be sure to find your voice and construct rhetoric that is comfortable to your style. The type of language you use, much like the research you conducted, should be tailored to your intended audience and the environment in which you’ll be speaking. This includes things like formality, simplicity or complexity of language, word economy, and depth of information. Make certain that each word or phrase is chosen carefully and with purpose, and incorporate smooth transitions between thoughts.
After you’ve finished your three points, go back and write the introduction and conclusion. The introduction previews the speech and gets the attention of your audience. This section of the speech typically begins with an attention-getting device or AGD. The AGD is usually a joke, a story, or a startling statistic about your topic. Next, you’ll need a link. This is where you tie the AGD into your topic and introduce the topic itself. Then, you’ll need a “statement of significance.” This is information that explains why your topic matters and how it affects people, which is important to getting your audience emotionally invested.
Lastly, state your thesis and preview your three points. Then, transition into your points. Next, write a conclusion at the end of your speech. Remind the audience why your topic is important, restate your thesis and points, and end with a “clincher.” This is a memorable line that will stick with the audience and drive the point home.
Finally, memorize your speech and practice delivery. Make sure to put emotion and emphasis on the most important parts of the argument. Practice by yourself, then in front of friends or family. Afterward, you’re ready to deliver the speech. Take careful note of how the audience reacts to various components and listen to whatever constructive criticism is offered. If you’re performing the speech multiple times, you can choose to revise it and perfect the argument over time.
Argumentation, persuasion, and public speaking are indispensable skills in furthering whatever cause you’re passionate about. Apply them toward raising awareness for people with hearing loss and deaf advocacy issues, as there is often a lack of information on these topics. Educating the general public on hearing loss is imperative to overcoming harmful stigma and the subsequent lack of accessibility.
Have you ever given a public speech about deaf awareness?