Not Just Deaf, But Also Tone Deaf…

Deaf people – those whose preferred language is sign and belong to the capital D “Deaf community” – have had to fight for their rights, language and culture against this oppression. In that context, the strong feelings of an unrepresentative few can be understood, even if their behaviour can’t be condoned.

Yes, that’s a CiF columnist showing ‘understanding’ of the people who sent death threats to a deaf woman who appeared on a singing contest. Because they felt she shouldn’t be ‘promoting a hearing activity’.

They’ve been ‘oppressed’ by the fact that the majority of people have hearing that works normally.

It also risks promoting a myth of a militant deaf community, acting as jealous gatekeepers of what it really means to be deaf. A casual observer reading the story about Harvey could be forgiven for thinking that the deaf community, in America or elsewhere, is far more intolerant than it really is.

I think you’ve lost that argument, love!

Deaf people are commonly seen as broken – in need of fixing. But with deafness can come a rich and vibrant language in sign, and a culture and community based on that.

Hearing people need to be sensitive to that fact when thinking about deafness. There are, for instance, endless videos on social media of deaf children given cochlear implants, hearing sounds for the first time, often shared by hearing people as inspirational modern-day miracles. Yet to many signing deaf people, they can represent something far more sinister: the absence of choice and the removal of deaf culture.

Barking mad!

3 comments for “Not Just Deaf, But Also Tone Deaf…

  1. The Cowboy Online
    December 13, 2017 at 6:00 pm

    My girlfriend used to work in a school that prided itself on having a large SEN population (I did wonder at how this impacted on the education for the non-SEN children, but of course the school was chasing funds) and this included some deaf children. One young child was identified as a good candidate for an operation to give it some hearing but its (deaf) parents refused this because of this (absolutely) militant deaf culture. Poor kid.

  2. Ed P
    December 14, 2017 at 10:39 am

    Evelyn Glennie is a great example of achievement – totally deaf but a world-class percussionist. No implants needed – she apparently senses vibrations through her abdomen.

    • December 14, 2017 at 11:30 pm

      A gut feel, eh?

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