Audism and Bullying

Ok, so why am I writing about Audism and Bullying?

Have I experienced Audism? Yes I have, although I am sure there were occasions I was unaware it was happening.

Have I been bullied? Yes, I have, although fortunately it was not often.

I am writing about this in part to educate, and to make others aware of how hurtful some things are. There are many things that hearing people say that are said in ignorance, that hurt, that are deliberate attempts to belittle us, or disregard our points of view. It isn’t just strangers that say these things, it’s co-workers, friends, and worse, families who should know better, and should be the last people who should say such things.

We have often heard:
“Don’t you listen?!”
“Can’t you hear me?!”
“Why don’t you pay attention?”
“Helen Keller”
“What are those things on your chest? Boobs?”
“Why do you talk that way?”
“You sound funny.”
“What are you, Dumb?”
“Are you ignoring me?”
“What are those things on your ears?”
“Here, let me do that, I can do it faster.”
“She can’t handle the phone, so we won’t interview her/hire her”
“Here, you handle that task, and I’ll handle this one.”
“What are you Deaf?”

There are even the little misconceptions, “Oh, you were listening, don’t you remember, blah blah blah, and I said blah, blah, blah. You were looking right at me when I said it”. Sure. No I don’t remember, and I was distracted by my children at the time, or my brain phased out, or I missed half of what you were saying.” When this leads to anger and fights from the other person, when they of all people should be understanding and know better; it is extremely hurtful to be told, “we told you, you should have been listening, why don’t you participate more”. Or, ” you understood me, you said you did.” No, I thought I did, it turns out I heard something else entirely. While this isn’t Audism or Bullying, it is still hurtful, when those closest to us assume we understood. When they assume our full attention was there. That we can stay on point all day long, even when tired, sick, distracted, that we get every single word. Especially when we are so good at lipreading, and understanding speech. Even families forget to continue to be aware of our needs, and often, that’s the most hurtful. The refusal to sign, to use the closed captioning, to make sure we are looking at them before speaking, the annoyance if muting the tv or stereo to speak to us, and etc., etc., etc.

And the list goes on, and I am sure some of you are thinking, “wow, that’s awful,” and “oh dear, I have said those things, I didn’t know those were hurtful”. Others of you are nodding, agreeing, and thinking of your own experiences, and what you have heard, and adding to the above list yourselves. And some of you I know, have stood up for me, for others like me, and risked getting in trouble yourselves in doing so.

No one is superior. We are all built from cells, and tissues and organs. Underneath our skin, past our facades, our disabilities, our skin colour, we are all the same. When you say things without thinking, or worse, with intentional malice, or take over a task because you think we cannot do it, you’ve caused hurt feelings, frustrations, and crossed that line. You have turned into a bully. An Audist.


Audism is the notion that one is superior based on one’s ability to hear or to behave in the manner of one who hears, or that life without hearing is futile and miserable, or an attitude based on pathological thinking which results in a negative stigma toward anyone who does not hear.[1] Audism can manifest in many people, but it is most predominant in hearing people. It is this mentality that led Tom L. Humphries to coin the term in his doctoral dissertation in 1975.[2] People who practice audism are called audists. Audism is a form of ableism, discrimination on the basis of (dis)ability.

Internalized/dysconscious audism

Additionally, Deaf people can practice forms of discrimination against members of their own community, based on what they believe is acceptable behavior, use of language, or social association. Dr. Genie Gertz explored examples of such audism in American society in her published dissertation.[5]

Audism can also occur between groups of deaf people, with some who choose not to use a sign language and not to identify with Deaf culture considering themselves to be superior to those who do, or vice versa. This is a type of ‘dysconscious’ audism, a phenomenon which is discussed in an essay by Genie Gertz in Open Your Eyes: Deaf Studies Talking.

All these variations of audism, and many which have gone unmentioned, have their echoes in gender, racial, religious, cultural, social, and sexual discrimination, and, when found among the deaf community itself, bear resemblance to similar structures of self-loathing.

As an ideology, audism has existed for many centuries no matter which definition is being used, although the more recent recognition of the Deaf community as a discrete language-using culture has afforded many more such examples. Over time, however, audism has been seen as reflecting the attitudes cultures maintain about Deaf people, and examples are thus seen as existing primarily within a medical paradigm, cultural paradigm, and education/linguistic paradigm, and much of the discourse about audism focuses on these three areas. In recent decades, with the proliferation of easily accessible communication technology, the discourse has expanded to focus on any area which involves deaf or Deaf people. Harlan Lane to some extent examines the development of Deaf-based educational principles in his history of Franco-American Deaf relations and educational philosophy.[6] Phonocentrism, the belief that speech and sounds are inherently superior to written language, has been described as being the root of audism.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
For the Wikipedia guidance essay, see Wikipedia:WikiBullying

A 2001 survey reports that bullying is detrimental to students’ well-being and development.[1] In the picture, a student suffering bullying at Instituto Regional Federico Errázuriz, Santa Cruz (Chile)

Bullying is the use of force, threat, or coercion to abuse, intimidate, or aggressively to impose domination over others. The behavior is often repeated and habitual. One essential prerequisite is the perception, by the bully or by others, of an imbalance of social or physical power. Behaviors used to assert such domination can include verbal harassment or threat, physical assault or coercion, and such acts may be directed repeatedly towards particular targets. Justifications and rationalizations for such behavior sometimes include differences of class, race, religion, gender, sexuality, appearance, behavior, strength, size or ability.[2][3] If bullying is done by a group, it is called mobbing.[4] “Targets” of bullying are also sometimes referred to as “victims” of bullying.

Bullying can be defined in many different ways. The UK currently has no legal definition of bullying,[5] while some U.S. states have laws against it.[6] Bullying consists of four basic types of abuse – emotional (sometimes called relational), verbal, physical, and cyber.[7] It typically involves subtle methods of coercion such as intimidation.

Bullying ranges from simple one-on-one bullying to more complex bullying in which the bully may have one or more “lieutenants” who may seem to be willing to assist the primary bully in his or her bullying activities. Bullying in school and the workplace is also referred to as peer abuse.[8] Robert W. Fuller has analyzed bullying in the context of rankism.

A bullying culture can develop in any context in which human beings interact with each other. This includes school, family, the workplace, home, and neighborhoods. In a 2012 study of male adolescent football players, “the strongest predictor was the perception of whether the most influential male in a player’s life would approve of the bullying behavior”.[9]



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