Did you know the last week of September is Deaf Awareness Week? Well, it has been for quite a long time. Many Deaf organizations put on festivals, lectures and focus on bringing the Deaf Culture individuals together as well as provide an opportunity to introduce Deaf culture to society. I can’t help but wonder, where that leaves the rest of us who are hearing impaired? We’re not even a hearing impaired culture, we are just hearing impaired. I know some people would disagree with me but I feel as though Deaf culture has received much more attention than their sisters and brothers who are hearing impaired.
Sometimes, I have difficulty understanding why we are so misunderstood as a group? It’s just that hearing people and people losing their hearing are in denial. They don’t want to understand and being confronted by us only makes it more real. Sometimes, I wonder whether we have been focusing on the wrong details to help people understand how to communicate with us. For example, most recently, I arranged to have a meeting with some professionals at work. I told them we’ll need extra time due to my hearing loss, as I wanted to make sure I had enough time to have things rephrased if necessary. The response was, why don’t we use a sign language interpreter?
Well, that was a nice offer and though I do sign, I prefer captioning and my work will not pay for that. Yes, I know I can push the ADA buttons, but the truth is, they cannot afford it. Then why can they afford an interpreter? because they already have interpreters in the organization that are already getting paid. My point here being is that everyone assumes we know sign language. Hearing people do not understand why we don’t sign. We need a month where we educated people aggressively about hearing loss. 46 million Americans ages 12 and up have a hearing loss and those numbers are increasing daily.
Technology has truly advanced but hearing aids are not a miracle potion and Audiologists too, have a great deal to learn about hearing loss. These days, Audiologists are programmers who basically fine tune the aid for us but many of them are in desperate need of training to understand hearing loss as a human factor. So back to my original point, we need to come together as a group to not only educate hearing people but to educate those who are quickly joining our ranks. I plan to continue to be involved online and at work. What do you plan to do?
“Helen Keller once said, ‘Blindness separates us from things, but deafness separates us from people,'”