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Being deaf, having deaf pride

To the editor:

There are two cultures in the deaf community. The first is the deaf people, who have not heard a sound their entire lives, then there are hard of hearing people who have experienced sound, but are considered deaf by legal classifications.

Deaf pride comes from knowing that people who have a hearing disability are almost always treated the same by hearing people. Whether it’s pity, over the top generosity, or flat out treated like an invalid or incompetent. For me, and several of my friends, we can not adequately express our disdain of hearing people trying to “make our lives better” by giving us the options to hear. Whether it is through hearing aids or through cochlear implants. All of them are painful, and all eventually cause serious issues. Just because the hearing people want the deaf to be more like them.

When I was a toddler, they thought I was mentally challenged or cognitively impaired because I didn’t speak a word until I was 5 years old. No one understood why. Until they brought me to an audiologist. I ended up wearing hearing aids starting when I was 6 years old. For 43 years, I wore hearing aids, because it’s what was expected out of me to be a functioning member in hearing society. Even though I prefer the use of sign language, and I despise ambient noise and useless clutter sounds. Forty-three years of being Pavlov’d into believing this is the only way I could succeed. Forty-three years of being told this is for the better by hearing people. Two-thirds of my life I had to fight to get recognition as one of the best chefs in the midwest, always being told I can’t succeed in the kitchen because I can’t hear.

Every step of the way I have proven every nay-sayer wrong. Parents told me I couldn’t learn Spanish because I couldn’t hear the words. “Mis padres son gente estúpida.” Parents told me I couldn’t play the piano or guitar, I proved them wrong, too. The point I’m trying to make–not only does family say this kind of crap, but so does the general society.

The pride comes from constantly dealing with hearing people shunning, or nay saying. It comes from proving everyone wrong every step of the way, and not letting hearing people have a footing when it comes to how we want our lives to be experienced. Hearing people mean well, but they are meddlesome and completely annoying. Deaf people have their own language, their own culture, their own way of thinking, their own views. Sometimes they run parallel with hearing people, most times the clash.

We don’t need people telling us it’s for our own good. We don’t need pity or some do-gooder with a huge heart to go the extra mile We don’t need an audiologist putting up ads that make us question ourselves about our situation. We do not have a disability, it’s what nature intended for us. What we lack in one, we gain in another. We don’t want hearing people meddling in our way of life. It’s like humans messing with nature because they have ignorant ideas how it should be.

You think minorities have it bad, try having a life long disability, then you will understand true discrimination, and why deaf pride is so bellicose when it comes to this kind of stuff. We are tired of having this flaunted in our faces making us question our own values, self worth, etc.

Editor’s note: This letter is a response to the article ‘From ear to ear’ printed in Living on Oct. 14.