This is a hard, controversial post, but it appears in my life constantly. Please be patient and understanding while reading it.
I was looking for videos in ASL when I found this:
This is a hot topic in any “Deaf” community. This is also partly why I and my husband aren’t considered IN the Deaf Community. He has a CI and I am hearing. I can never be IN the community, not truly. They even have a diagram to show all of us how we aren’t really IN it. People in Deaf culture are in the very center. The rest of us… well… you can see how you really aren’t unless you are both deaf and accept the culture.
Disability in this context is defined by the American Heritage Dictionary is:
A disadvantage or deficiency, especially a physical or mental impairment that interferes with or prevents normal achievement in a particular area.
So is deafness a deficiency that prevents “normal” achievement in a particular area.
But it is clear that it is unacceptable to call deafness a disability, unless you are at the social security office, or at a school, doctors office, counselors, or other office asking for an interpreter. Then you are covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act. From what I can see, you are disabled when you need to be but otherwise aren’t when you don’t need anything to interact with the rest of the culture (real world) at large. You don’t really need Closed Captions to enjoy a show, do you? You can watch it without subtitles. And you certainly don’t need police to be trained in how to deal with a deaf person if they aren’t disabled.
If you have a CI–A cochlear implant–you can not be IN Deaf Culture because you are not audiologically in deaf culture. Even people who consider themselves deaf and aren’t FULLY deaf can’t be in the “inner circle” of Deaf Culture, let alone if you are Hard of Hearing. As shown by the diagram above.
I have never really understood this and for the life of me, I can’t understand why CI’s bother Deaf people (with a capital D) so much.
If you had a child born missing a retina and there was surgery to reattach it or to replace it with a digital device, would you not do it? If your child were missing legs, would you refuse to let them use a wheelchair? Parents with deaf children consider it a disability, like these others mentioned before, and they are vilified in the Deaf Community for it.
And if their children are put in a deaf school, those children receive reinforcement for all their negative feelings (because, we have to admit that being deaf in a hearing family is often a lonely, distant, alienating sort of existence) toward their parents. Those reinforcements distance a deaf child from their hearing family members.
These parents have a daunting task and the Deaf Community makes it harder and almost guarantees the parents failure at some point no matter what choice they make.
Why? All because of a concept called “Deaf Culture” and the education that presents deafness as a NON disability.
As far as culture goes, scientifically, Deaf Culture does not really fit in it: http://www.deafculture.com/. But I’ve been in a “Deaf Education” class. It is clear that it is being taught as an actual Culture (anthropologically speaking), ignoring the spaces that it is missing to actually be one.
All of it doesn’t really matter. The truth is the truth. Either Deafness is a disability or not. Either Deaf Culture is a culture or it is not. My opinion means nothing in this area to anyone really influential, but it is my own. And now I am interested in yours. Try not to be too hard on me in your comments below.