A Statement

I am still amazed by the amount of bigotry, anger and lack of open-mindedness existing in the Deaf community. I know some of you will not agree or become offended by what I am about to say. That’s life. However in recent weeks I have witnessed in my online Facebook groups a shocking amount of ignorance, misinformation, bigotry, and close-mindedness of the Deaf people posting.

It is 2014 for goodness sakes! We have at our disposal a greater wealth of technology in assistive devices, hearing aids, cochlear implants, phones, tablets and computers than we did even thirty years ago. We have rights. We have supports that we did not previously have. We have choice in how we are educated, choices our parents make based on information gathered or the advice of their child’s audiologist, or on what local schools and programs are available. These are difficult choices any parent makes in raising their child.

Yet, after all this time, the topic of ASL or Cochlear Implant are still hot button topics. Much of the Deaf community are still against the use of the cochlear implant, and still view parents who choose not to use sign, as taking away from the Deaf culture. I mean really? Seriously? I was raised oral, I admit that. However I don’t believe my parents raised me oral because of their bias towards sign language. I am pretty sure they would have used it, had I needed to. I did not, because I apparently hit the ground running once I got my hearing aids and never looked back.

I read a blog post yesterday, Conspiracy Against the Deaf that I couldn’t finish reading. It was so full of rage and venom that I actually blasted the writer for dragging into 2014 a history, that while it is tragic, horrifying and part of Deaf History, no longer is relevant in today’s society. The writer claimed there is no objective journalism (I disagree) and that he was expressing his feelings. I responded that it was a disservice to the Deaf today, because we have overcome that past, that bias and bigotry for the most part and that he was only spreading bigotry towards the hearing community, none of whom are responsible for our tragic past.

He didn’t offer solutions. We as deaf people need to be more visible, more vocal, more active in the community at large. We have to stop hiding within our community and Deaf Culture. It is time to step into the present, and work towards the future. Our children have the greatest access to technology than we had as children. Let’s applaud that. Let’s cheer these children on their successes because they have the greater chance to succeed than many of us did. Don’t fault the parents for choices we may not agree with, they have a hard enough time making those decisions. We need to be available, approachable, and willing to educate, to have the life and accessibility we deserve. Only we can show how helpful sign language is, and how children can succeed having access to both sign language and the spoken language.

The cochlear implant is not a cure for deafness. It’s a tool, to give us and our children a better quality of life by being able to hear and communicate. It gives us access to a sense that is very much needed for survival. One day, they may be able to restore hearing fully to a deaf person. It may be a hundred years from now, but we should cheer these leaps that we have made in that direction, not accuse the hearing community of trying to fix us, cure us of by perceived disease or a disability.

It is time to move forward. Stop the bigotry. Stop the audism even within our deaf community. We blame the hearing for bigotry and audism, but many of us are just as guilty. It is time to step into the present and look forward to the future. The past is the past, learn from it and move on. Offer solutions, push for better accessibility, and become more visible, and educate the world at large. Only then will bigotry and audism cease to exist within our deaf community, and hearing community.

http://brotheryellow.com/2014/05/15/conspiracy-against-deaf/ (if the above link does not work)

An Addendum:
I personally think many of the deaf need to get into the present, and get out of the past and get with the times. The landscape of our community is changing, with previously hearing people joining our ranks through disease, through no fault of their own and need OUR HELP AND EXPERIENCE to adjust. More children than ever are born to hearing parents who need to be welcomed, no matter what decisions parents make on their communication development or use of hearing aids and CI. They’re just as deaf as those born to deaf parents.

We are letting ourselves become more of a minority by staying within our groups, and not welcoming all others with a hearing loss, no matter if they have hearing aids, an implant, use sign, use speech, etc.. I have never felt part of the deaf community, because they didn’t allow any who happened to speak and not sign into it. That’s got to stop. So much whining about the invisibility of our community and people like me aren’t welcomed into it by virtue of the fact I do not sign.

For change to happen, it needs to start within first.

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15 thoughts on “A Statement

  1. shoot….I left out one important word, “not” I wanted to say “many parents are or were NOT given full information…”

  2. I’m deaf, raised with ASL, went to oral school, have CI (though I wear it off and on) since i was 45 years old. It helped me with my old job but when i asked for a VP or interpreter, my former manager gave me a hard time. He wasn’t supportive. So the CI itself doesn’t seem to change their attitudes about additional accommodations I need to perform my job. He saw VP/interpeters as too much money.

    I agree that a CI is only a tool. I think part of the argument I’ve seen not here but elsewhere is how many parents are or were given FULL information. Many audiologists wouldn’t include the information about ASL. I think that’s a sore point.

  3. I agree with you that “Only we can show how helpful sign language is, and how children can succeed having access to both sign language and the spoken language.” I was also raised oral and learned ASL as a second language when I was a young teenager. Yesterday I went to a cued speech presentation at a meeting held by my local HLAA, and can see how cued speech would help me with all of those words that look the same on the lips. In the Fall of 2012, I stopped hearing anything with my hearing aid & during the winter of 2013 I got a CI. Around that time, I joined online FB groups having to do with CIs for support with learning more about using my new CI. I was surprised to find, in 2013 (and now 2014) that the people I regularly found myself trying to educate were at the opposite end of the extreme of which you write. While I can, thankfully, count these people on only one hand, they are the ones who will tell you to not use your / your child’s eyes or hands to learn and use language. They will tell you to “save it for later.” We also need to show these people that deaf people are smart, we can succeed at both simultaneously, and that access to language via the eyes and/or hands should not be denied. I left the largest CI group on FB earlier this Spring because the most active of the admins freely made dismissive & negative comments about the Deaf community, despite having no experience with it. In sum, I agree with you that “children can succeed having access to both.”

    • Well said. In this day and age such restrictive viewpoints shouldn’t exist from both sides. It serves our children no purpose.

    • I personally think many of the deaf need to get into the present, and get out of the past and get with the times. The landscape of our community is changing, with previously hearing people joining our ranks through disease, through no fault of their own and need OUR HELP AND EXPERIENCE to adjust. More children than ever are born to hearing parents who need to be welcomed, no matter what decisions parents make on their communication development or use of hearing aids and CI. They’re just as deaf as those born to deaf parents.

      We are letting ourselves become more of a minority by staying within our groups, and not welcoming all others with a hearing loss, no matter if they have hearing aids, an implant, use sign, use speech, etc.. I have never felt part of the deaf community, because they didn’t allow any who happened to speak and not sign into it. That’s got to stop. So much whining about the invisibility of our community and people like me aren’t welcomed into it by virtue of the fact I do not sign.

      For change to happen, it needs to start within first.

  4. thank you!!! i have worked with the Deaf and Hard of Hearing for 36 years….we need to focus on the now , and accept individual choices , not pass judgement!

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