Being Fixed vs Staying Deaf

ear deaf readers, does that title above anger you? Dear cochlear implant readers, does that title above confuse you?  And dear hearing, do you feel either neutral or un-sympathetic?

Let me be clear here.  I believe that using the words ‘Fixed’ and ‘Staying deaf’ are horrible words to use about both implanted and deaf communities.  That should never have been a question, let alone phrased in such a manner.  This post is a reaction to the article Not all deaf people want to be ‘fixed’.

First, the author did a good job bringing home the fact that implants are not easy “fixes”, as well as the fact that neither groups are better or wrong than the other.  What is riling me up is the report of audiologists’ ignorance (which I have personally bore the brunt of), as well as rude comments piling up on each other after the article.

Second, Heart to Ear addresses the need for all types of language, an understanding that cochlear implants are not quick fixes, and allowing all groups to make their own decisions in the matter.  You will see glimpses of that in this post, while I respond to each issues brought up in the aforementioned article.

Here we go.

1. If you do not get a cochlear implant, you will fall into the deaf society.

When I first heard this argument, my jaw dropped.  Really?  This negative denigration of the deaf community is very unnecessary.  The implication here is that deaf community will cause your IQ to drop, your ability to speak vanish, and your capabilities in the “real world” next to zero.  All untrue, it’s so false that it’s almost laughable.

Getting a cochlear implant or not should *not* hinge on whether or not you will become a particular part of the community.  It should hinge on whether it’s right or wrong for YOU and you, alone.  If people do not accept your choices, they are the ones you should not ‘fall in with’.  You can inform them, but if they choose to not try to understand or accept you, that is their loss alone.

2. Deaf people are broken and disillusioned.  Other variations: Deaf people are dumb, deaf people force their hearing children to not speak, deaf people are not functional members of society.

Deaf people are incredibly resilient — they have spent decades adapting to a lack of hearing.  A lack of hearing does not cause them to be unable to do anything.  They still have the drive and passion for life.  They still have a brain residing in their complex skulls.  They still have emotions that all of us are learning to deal with on a daily basis, even as adults.  Telling them any variation of #2 is telling them their life is useless.

Tell that to Keith Wann, who is a fantastic CODA comedian.  Tell that to the deaf actress, Emily Howlett, who is very successful at what she does.  Tell that to the hundreds of deaf people who are good at what they do.  Tell that to Helen Keller, if she were alive, that the way she changed the world was in vain.  Tell that to me, who has lived for 14 years deaf and struggled with identity.  Any of them, any of us, will tell you, “Screw you”.

3. Don’t continue to learn sign language because your lip reading skills will disappear, your ability to speak will fade away, you will alienate friends and family, etc. 

Sign language, for me, was and remains one of the many language tools I had at my disposal.  What people need to understand is that we all use whatever tools we have to communicate.  Communication is on the list of top priorities of any social beings.

Sign language came along with lip reading.  I continued to lip read and I still do, in addition to struggling to hear with my cochlear implant.  Some days, I do not hear as well with the cochlear implant.  Other days, I am blessed to catch word after word.

I continue to use my voice.  I enjoyed the feeling of vibration in my throat, long before I was able to hear my own voice as clearly as I do now.

My friends and family were eager to learn sign language, as well as enjoying conversation with me face to face verbally.  None of this alienated them.  However, there are trepidation on the side of hearing people to approach deaf people for fear that communication between the two would never work out comfortably.  But the first step into attempting to communicate usually result in new friendships being formed and understanding that both worlds always learn new ways to communicate, especially via technology.  That’s the fun part!

And guess what? As a cochlear implanted individual, I still struggle daily on communication as much as deaf people do!  So, please, realize that everyone has different degrees of struggle, no matter what the ‘disability’ or how ‘fixed’ someone is.

Part 2 here!

{You can also enjoy this article from hubpages.  Link Below.}

If You Don’t Want Cochlear Implant, That’s Okay.

Excerpt:

Spouting the myths above makes both the implanted and the hearing people look very bad. It’s oppressive to the deaf people and it is very ignorant. I know that as an implanted individual, I am literally ears-burning-red ashamed of what has been done to Emily Howlett, as well as the cruel people bashing the deaf culture as a whole. It’s time to stop, now.