A Hearing Loss & Late Deafened Blog

Aimin’ To Misbehave

In Accommodations for Deaf on January 13, 2009 at 2:59 am

Funny Faces 4, originally uploaded by jaaron.

For Christmas my daughter gave me a tote bag with the words, “Well behaved women seldom make history.” I just happened to glance at it this afternoon and it got me thinking about some of the more noteworthy misbehaving women of our times. There have been several, but the one that first came to mind was Hilary Clinton. One thing she was repeatedly criticized for was her temper. During her campaign she was called a ‘shrew’ and much worse. Yet if she’d been a man, few people would have found fault. Sarah Palin was criticized for trying to ‘upstage’ McCain. For shame! If she had been a man people would have admired her strength of character. Seems many people are more forgiving of men who break the rules. Women in office have to be fighters. We shouldn’t expect less of a presidential candidate who might have to go nose to nose with other world leaders.

What an interesting election year we had this past year, and now we’re about to have our first black president–something Martin Luther King could only dream of when he gave his speech at the Lincoln Memorial back in 1963. Imagine if Harriet Tubman were alive today. SHE was one brave woman who misbehaved so much a price was put on her head. Rosa Parks was another who simply stopped ‘behaving’ one day, by refusing to move to the back of the bus like she was supposed to. She has gone down in history as “The Woman Who Changed A Nation” 


I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about other women who have broken rules and changed the world. There was Susan B. Anthony, Lucy Stone, Gloria Steinem. . . and one of my favorites Juliette Gordon Low, the founder of Girl Scouts. The story goes she had the audacity to strip down to her pantaloons to play basketball with other girls in a men’s club when she was a teenager. She believed girls could do anything boys could do. (gasp!) Teaching young girls to be ‘capable’ became the foundation of Girl Scouting, and undoubtedly influenced a lot of young girls to seek higher goals.

It might seem this has nothing to do with deafness, but it does. You see Juliette Gordon Low was deaf too. If she had lived today, I bet she would be fighting for deaf accessibility instead of equality for young women. The parallels between the Women’s movement, Civil Rights, and lack of deaf access have not been lost on me.

Deaf people are far from ‘equal’ when so much of society is unaccessible to them. When we visit the National Parks our tax dollars have paid for only to find that video presentations and tours normally accessble to the public are inaccessible to us, that is unfair and wrong. When we try to see movies with our families only to find them uncaptioned and inacessible to the deaf, it’s wrong. When we pay for expensive hotel rooms only to find their TV’s have no captioning or their phones not ADA compliant, that is wrong. When we request accommodations at work, and are turned down; when we are passed over for someone less qualified with better hearing, it’s called discrimination and it’s very wrong. The inequities against deaf are rampant. Deaf children miss out on hundreds of educational opportunities open to hearing children every day. Our public museums, theaters, classrooms, businesses find loopholes in the ADA to prevent access and our government turns a blind eye.

When will our deaf “Juliette Low” stand up and fight for us? How long will it take our deaf “Rosa Parks” to dig her heels in and demand equal access? Who will be our deaf “Martin Luther King?” When will our first deaf “Obama” be sworn into office?

We, the Deaf/deaf/hh community, are too complaisant about accommodations. We will not be treated as equals until we start misbehavin’ some. I think it’s time.

Kim 🙂

  1. I agree entirely. Deafness is not taken seriously. World over. It’s a disability that is often swept under a rug.

    Yet it is one that has serious social impact for people. And it never goes away as it affects nearly every situation that we experience.

    I think it is about time we rose up and made people start really taking notice of us.

    I’m quite happy to misbehave with ya!

    Robyn in NZ

  2. wow! this post just blew me away. I had no idea that Juliette Low was deaf, and you are so right about accessibility. I still find myself battling to get accessibility, why? this is the 21st century. Ya think they had just invented the hearing aid at the rate things are going, or just discovered captioning.
    thanks for this post, it certainly make you think.

  3. Great post, Kim!!! I often aim to misbehave myself, and did on my trip to Haiti. I am learning to use that same attitude in application to my hearing loss. Some people misbehave simply to draw attention to themselves or to partake in the drama of life, but others misbehave as a way to get around limits other put on them. I am only as limited as I allow myself to be. It may be a fact that I am limited in my ability to hear, and I know there is little I can do to enhance that ability, though I am always trying, but those limits that are imposed upon me by not hearing in no way needs to limit me in my life as a whole. I am a whole human being even without my hearing.


  4. I think I have been blind. I never noticed these things you mention we, the deaf and HOH lack. I was so happy when we were able to watch movies on VCR’s and eventually, DVD’s, because I could adjust volume and use closed captions…I liked watching movies for the first time ever. Now I like tv. I am peeved about streaming with netflix, because there are no captions. I know I am rambling, but I never liked tours because I could never hear the tour guide in museums. I never once (can you believe it) thought that I should have had the right to an assisted hearing device! Now I am angry! The things I missed out learning— in life. I always just shrugged it off and went about my business. I always said I wish the internet was around when I was in school, because I would have been really smart. Why? Because if I didn’t know something, I could look it up with my fingertips. I wouldn’t have to take the time to go to the library, do research—!! Most of all, if I had had an assistant listening device in school, I know I would have learned more and would have been more knowledgeable today. Thank you for opening my eyes.


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