August 9, 2014

"My heart is still deaf, and my allegiance is with the deaf community. After years of guardedness..."

"... my access to others and their easy intimacy unmasks me, and I don't always like it. Leaving my private world behind gives me what I call identity vertigo. I have to engage more, take more responsibility, and I'm out of practice. But now I've regained spontaneity in my life...."

17 comments:

MisterBuddwing said...

I'll probably catch in the neck for this one, but as far as I know, the deaf community is the only community that seems to equate what most of us would call a disability to a unique culture. I've never heard of a "blindness" culture or a "wheelchair" culture, but maybe I haven't been paying attention.

One other thing I've noticed is that people who were profoundly deaf since birth tend to express themselves in blatancies - it's as if missing the nuances of the spoken language makes it much more difficult to pick on on subtleties of meaning. I'll just as quickly add that some deaf-since-bieth persons are just as articulate as the so-called "hearies" - actress Marlee Matlin is one example that comes to mind.

Ann Althouse said...

I'm looking for the anosmia culture.

traditionalguy said...

What did you say?

Kelly said...

I read one time many in the deaf community refuse to try the cochlear implant. I think people who lost their hearing later in life are the ones who get it, or hearing people with deaf children.

Fernandinande said...

on my mum's side, progressive hearing loss is hereditary
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"... Deaf adults have poor reading levels (~4th grade, on average), are far less likely to graduate from high school and college, and have a tough time making a living. Their unemployment rate is at least 40%, and seems to be getting worse with time. There used to be some blue-collar jobs that they fit pretty well, but those have become scarcer.

Severe congenital deafness hits about 1 in 1000 children. Some cases are caused by various environmental insults, but most are genetic. One particular mutation (GJB2 35delG) accounts for a fair fraction of genetic deafness (and almost certainly confers some kind of heterozygote advantage), but mutations in many different genes account for the majority of cases. Prenatal rubella used to cause a lot of cases, but that ended when there was an effective vaccination campaign back in the 1970s.

Because of the diverse mutational spectrum, > 90% of the children of deaf couples can hear. Many deaf people wish that their children were deaf like them, but they’re wrong, of course. ..."
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Michael K said...

I knew a girl in college who was deaf and quite skilled at lip reading. She dated a fraternity brother of mine. One night a group of us were sitting in a car at a drive-in restaurant near campus and I noticed them in his car near-by. She was lip reading our conversation to him and thee were laughing uproariously. This was in the 1950s when cochlear implants (developed by a friend of mine) were still years in the future.

John Lynch said...

Being deaf means having your own language.

Language=culture.

It makes perfect sense. It's not like other disabilities because it takes away the one thing all cultures have in common, language.

John Lynch said...

Being deaf means English is a second language. Of course reading levels are lower. If you had to speak in one language but write in another, how well could you do it?

Anonymous said...

I've read that some ppl who get LASIK have a similar psychological reaction to having clear vision again.

Kev said...

I've read that some ppl who get LASIK have a similar psychological reaction to having clear vision again.

Hmm..not in my experience. I just had LASIK less than three years ago, and it wasn't so much that my vision got better--rather, that my vision got better without glasses.

It was especially evident at outdoor activities such as sporting events that started in daylight and ended up in darkness. No more wearing prescription sunglasses and carrying a pair of regular classes in a cargo pocket (and hoping they didn't fall out or get squashed). Now I can just wear regular sunglasses and put them on top of my head like the rest of the world.

m stone said...

MisterBudd: "...as far as I know, the deaf community is the only community that seems to equate what most of us would call a disability to a unique culture."

The handicapped community that has benefited so much (and rightly so) from the ADA is a loosely-formed culture and certainly a lobby for further action.

One of the marks of that large community is the unique language that many have adopted: the refusal to use "disabled" in favor of handicapped (ugh) or "differently abled" and rarely attaching the cause (eg. disease) of their limitation in language. "My legs don't work" in favor of "I'm paralyzed." People are only "handicapped" by the obstacles they face, like access to a building without a ramp.

I'm not sure the hearing impaired have integrated into this community.

Skyler said...

My wife is deaf and was born that way. She fervently believes that cochlear implants in children are abusive. The problem is that adults don't respond to them very well because their brains haven't developed an ability to understand sound.

No hearing person agrees with that if course, and yet my wife remains unconvinced. I think part of the problem is that were deafness to be cured in a large percent of the deaf community, the remaining deafies would be that much more isolated and accommodations less available.

Skyler said...

American Sign Language has no tense. "I went to the store" and "I will go to the store" can be identical to "I am going to the store."

Also, almost all the deaf people I know have no knowledge of even the most basic idioms. And for a language that relies heavily on spelling, deaf people are generally terrible spellers.

The discussion of isolation and the inability to participate in group conversations with hearing people points out a very real challenge. I would say that the author of this article has her own personality and her reactions are unique to her, but the challenge is real.

Skyler said...

Deaf people generally prefer to be called deaf. Partly because it's easier to spell and they are neither impressed by euphemisms or recognize a reason to admit they need a euphemism.

CatherineM said...

There is a good documentary called "Sound and Fury" on Netflix.

It's been a long time since I saw the movie, but the deaf man most adamant about keeping his children deaf explaining that he can do anything a hearing person can, yet he needs someone to translate for him at work.

El Camino Real said...

Tribes. It's who we are. It's what we do.

Andy Krause said...

I am partially deaf. I will say that other senses tend to fill in or become more acute with the lack of sound. A persons face gives much of their intentions when what they are speaking is ignored. Sometimes I can see liars. I can smell smoke before others notice. When wearing my aids I notice that a lot of conversation is incredibly inane. On the down side I've almost walked right thru people that have come up behind me and I didn't realize they were there. Conversations around a dinner table are usually too fast to follow. I can't turn to the speaker fast enough to get what is said. On the funny side I've had extended conversations where we suddenly realize we're talking about different things. The mind works to fill in words that are not heard clearly. Homonyms are a real tickler.