Y’all… CHICKS ON THE RIGHT picked this up.
And linked to my little ol’ blog.
Let’s be honest here… first I was like:
And then there was a fair amount of screaming. My husband may now be considered legally deaf.
Because I knew they were going to share from a hearing person’s perspective… just how offensive that article was to so many people who are doing nothing wrong by celebrating a joyous part of someone’s journey.
But even better than that? The Chicks followed up with some really terrific news about Joanne Milne, the woman who heard for the first time after her cochlear implant was activated.
A glaring fact that the first article’s author omitted, was that Ms. Milne has Ushers Syndrome. I have several deaf friends with Ushers – a cruel disease that takes both sight and hearing.
Ms. Milne is in a race against time to preserve what independence she can - as a legally blind person who is losing her hearing. Many Deaf community members might claim that their hearing loss is part of their culture (it is), but I doubt many of them would be willing to spend their lives in complete darkness and silence if there were something they could do to maintain more contact with the world around them.
And before any accuse me of assuming deaf-blind persons cannot be independent and productive members of society, I’ll share that I have two deaf-blind aunts who live independently and retired after years of working for BOEING.
Y’all, your plane parts were put together by incredibly talented deaf and blind people. They have earned every bit of pride they have in themselves.
See, that was a whole bunch I’ve never shared here before. Which makes it really silly for someone to make blanket statements about people watching happy videos, right?
Now, I’ll send you off to the Chicks on the Right perspective, while I go scream some more :)
I don’t share this often.
Because the fallout is brutal.
I’ve been asked to write about deafness for big name websites… social media brands you’d recognize. I turned them down, knowing that the backlash I’ve experienced in my own life would only be compounded by exposure to the anonymity of ugly online opinions.
I doubled down on ensuring anything related to our blog or Facebook or Twitter or Google+ or… a myriad of other sources would be as drama-free as possible.
Because frankly, I care about YOU. The readers who have been with us for 7+ years. Who supported us through infertility, cancer, losing mom. Who laughed with us about squirrels and elbutts and shopping with toddlers.
Because you knew us as Mr. Daddy, Rachel, and Itty Bit. And Rachel just happens to be deaf.
I feel like you would hear my heart because I’ve never claimed to be perfect. And in sharing it now, I realize that this opens up this community to those aforementioned opinions from others.
The irony is that most hostility is likely to come via social media other than here… since you guys have made this such a place of support.
Here is what I wanted to share: being deaf comes with an incredible myriad of choices for how to communicate with the world. There are some who chose to communicate primarily through American Sign Language (ASL), others who use different sign languages, others who learn to lipread and to speak, still others who use written messages, some who receive cochlear implants, some who use hearing aids, and some who will use countless combinations of these.
There is a community that makes a distinction between being deaf and being Deaf. The capital-D Deaf signifies that for the majority of these persons, they rely on ASL and many believe that hearing aids or cochlear implants are an unnecessary attempt by the hearing world to “fix” us.
This was the purported viewpoint of a woman with deaf parents who authored this article:
She wants you guys to stop sharing those videos, y’all.
Because she doesn’t want people thinking that deaf people need to be fixed or that cochlear implants are a fix.
Nevermind that the people in the videos have chosen to share a part of their lives. A moment that undoubtedly had much emotional investment because they’ve made such a personal decision to do something in order to help them toward a goal they are pursuing.
And frankly? I am not going to be shamed out of celebrating with them. I won’t shame you guys for not expecting the video to be a full documentary of everything that led a person to this decision, and everything that they’ll face afterward.
The author paints every viewer as a person uneducated about hardships these people may face. But to a person… (life is pretty consistent this way) every single life is filled with UNIQUE hardships.
It’s just like I’ll celebrate with the mother holding a newborn… whether I know that her son was after seven hopeless years of infertility, whether that baby is her newly adopted daughter, whether he has down syndrome, whether she’ll have autism, and whether I know how any of their lives turn out in the grand struggle and delight of life. Because ohmygosh, she’s HAPPY and radiant and joyful and excited and breathless with what she is going to do in the world.
I am just so incredibly frustrated by the author’s response to these beautiful moments that people are sharing. Not that she’s attacking the persons choosing to get the cochlear implants (oh, but she is… can’t you feel it?), but that she’s attacking YOU. For spending the moment happy with someone.
She calls it “maudlin”.
I looked it up just to see how officially insulting it was.
showing or expressing too much emotion especially in a foolish or annoying way, drunk enough to be emotionally silly, weakly and effusively sentimental - - Merriam Webster
Is that what you got out of this video?
Or this one?
Or this one?
Ever had something to celebrate? And noticed that killjoy who refused to join? I won’t be that person. I am so saddened that this is another example of the Deaf community shooting their wounded.
Rejoice with those who rejoice.
Ironically, the author acknowledges that some who receive cochlear implants “no longer feel welcome in the Deaf community”.
Let’s all consider: you make a monumental decision, share it with your community, and not only do they not support you, but they attempt to shame others who would.
So if the author’s goal was “education”… that you could learn all kinds of new things about the Deaf community and how to interact with them and be part of what makes them unique – I’d be grateful if you’d take in part of my story – a hard-earned education.
I was three years old when my mother noticed me shifting the phone to my other ear when talking to my grandmother.
On my fourth birthday, I suddenly lost the rest of my hearing and became profoundly deaf.
The audiologist who fit me with my first pair of hearing aids was detached, perfunctory, brusque.
Until I began kicking my heels on the chair legs. And realizing that sound, in some form, had returned.
As I belted through “I’ve Been Working On the Railroad” and “Oh Susannah”, the audiologist’s attitude completely changed.
But over the years, my hearing continued to fluctuate, and today, I am more profoundly deaf than the average deaf person you meet.
Years of interactions with the hearing world, speech therapy, lipreading practice, being fluent in sign language – all helped me communicate.
I used this for the good I felt I could do. My mother’s frequent explanation that “people just don’t know”… encouraging me toward trying to build bridges between people of different abilities.
And as I started the one year “speaking” tour as the scholarship pageant winner, I was accosted by countless comments of
You’re not REALLY deaf because you can speak.
You’re not REALLY deaf because you wear hearing aids.
In a story I rarely share, I was reprimanded by a pageant official because I attempted to help a deaf contestant understand that a restaurant waiter was asking if she wanted soup or salad.
And years later, this type of discriminatory commentary still happens. Ironically, Deaf against deaf. Incredible amounts of hostility.
Much of this vitriol was aimed at my mother, who was accused of “forcing” me into the hearing world.
It grieves me more now that I’m a mother and I’ve experienced the bewildering vastness of parenting decisions… any one of which is easy to imagine will screw up your child for life.
Can you imagine. Your three-year old who loves cartoons and loves to sing and talks non-stop all the ever-loving day… telling her not to use her voice. She can only sign – a language she doesn’t know. No hearing aids to try to give her some semblance of what she has been used to for three years. The deafness is dizzying… literally. Yet you cannot continue to speak with her and must only use a brand new sign language to communicate with a very confused child. Or you must send her away to a state-run deaf school so she can be with others of her “own kind”. Your three-year old. That was the Capital-D Deaf community’s militant opinion.
I choose that she did the loving and compassionate and brave thing.
She refused to let go of me.
Gave me every single tool she could.
Signed with me constantly, and sang with me constantly.
And never let me use my deafness as an excuse (except in Marco Polo).
And this article… means to demean her for thinking she could “fix” me. To demean you for celebrating someone who makes a hard decision.
I’m choosing not to shoot our wounded.
And I’m so glad that you’re willing to really hear me.