The Hard of Hearing need proper advocacy when it comes to their hearing loss and their overall needs. Far too often, the cultural deafs will insist that the Hard of Hearing are being advocated for by them, but their promoted solution more often than anything else, is learning sign language for their region, such as ASL in the USA or BSL in the UK.
What’s wrong with hard of hearing learning sign language?
There’s nothing inherently wrong with learning a new language, however the Hard of Hearing aren’t already involved in Deaf Culture, and quite frankly Deaf Culture is excessively difficult for an outsider to get into, even if that very outsider is another individual either born deaf or went deaf as a child but was mainstreamed rather than being sent through a school for the deaf.
Since the Hard of Hearing is already involved in one or more cultures from the hearing world, they tend to prefer largely to interact with the hearing world and continue to do so. So generally, the HoH individual will not gain any significant benefit learning sign language due to most hearing people not knowing sign language themselves.
As a result, say an American HoH person does learn ASL, the only thing that opens up to them is being able to better communicate with deaf people who already sign. Now keep in mind signing deaf are only roughly 20% of the deaf population. Not all deaf people sign, I’m one of them. I can sign, but I prefer not to due to culture. So if you have deaf people who are lip readers and speaking because of our preference in culture as for who we all hang out with (friends, family, spouse, etc), how would sign language really even benefit me personally as an oralist? Answer is that it really wouldn’t in most cases. Same goes with the hard of hearing.
The Deaf Culture cultural clash
The exclusiveness and isolationist nature of Deaf Culture creates a cultural clash in which the mainstreamed deafs like myself, and the hard of hearing like my roommate who are already involved in one or more cultures from the hearing world in a stark contrast with how Deaf Culture is.
For example. In the hearing world, one generally avoids being too blunt about something to the point of being rude. For example, if we hire a painter to paint a room, and we’re not pleased with the work. We’ll tell them something along the lines of “It’d be better off if you sanded the edges around here some and then paint back over it”. To someone involved in Deaf Culture, this is different. They’ll say in the same scenario for the same painter on the same wall on the same job, “This job is sloppy. Redo it.”
There’s also the fact that within cultures of the hearing world, talk about bodily functions aren’t openly expressed such as the need to defecate, however discussions of bodily functions isn’t culturally taboo in Deaf Culture which many, including myself, are quite off put about. A hearing child in school will walk up to a teacher and whisper “May I go to the bathroom?” so that others don’t hear the request. The deaf child in school will simply stay where they are regardless of who’s looking at them and sign “I need to crap, right now.”
Many people involved in Deaf Culture are heavily negative towards people who don’t already sign or who aren’t already part of their culture. Even worse is if you don’t have the “right” politics, they’ll alienate and ostracise you even further. An example of this is for the UK, if you were in support of Brexit, they’ll kick you out of their groups and push you away. In the USA, if you don’t think Donald Trump is “literally Hitler” and a “far right Nazi who’s hell bent on destroying America” then they also push you out of their groups to alienate, isolate and ostracize you. You have to walk on egg shells. And from what I’ve seen of Hard of Hearing people, they’re not some political monolith, they’re diverse in their thoughts, opinions and even their political beliefs, from some being left wing and right wing, some being authoritarian while others heavily libertarian.
But primarily in Deaf Culture, you have heavy socialist leanings because of how Deaf Culture heavily relies on disability payments and on the hearing that signs (interpreters and CODAs) and are generally accustomed to having things handed to them.
For example, I know of an instance in both Phoenix, AZ as well as in London, England in which the deaf were offered to make the decision on what to do with X amount of funds. They were offered two choices.
- The funds can be used to provide sign language classes, classes to improve literacy and english comprehension, audiologist visits, hearing aids, cochlear implants and general education for taking care of your listening devices.
- A club space for weekly social gatherings.
Can you figure out which direction the cultural deaf went? If you picked option #1 you’re sorely mistaken. They picked #2. If they had picked #1 then they’d have benefited the hard of hearing, which is partly who that funding was also supposed to benefit and would’ve greatly helped deaf people who wanted to learn to sign and have better literacy and get help with getting listening devices that they otherwise couldn’t afford.
So instead of helping out the majority of the deaf (roughly 80%) and the hard of hearing, they chose to solely think of themselves and literally have all the funding spent solely on themselves (the Culturally Deaf) as opposed to the deaf majority and the hard of hearing.
How how did a minority manage to make it’s way into making that decision for everyone else at their detriment? Simple, they claim that offering hearing aids and CI’s and english literacy courses were “culturally offensive” and essentially used the hecklers veto in order to get option #1 removed from the table.
So you could say it’s not so much that they picked option #2, but rather, complained and whined and protested until option #1 was taken out back and shot because of their cultural sensibilities that the majority of people the funding was meant for don’t share.
So what’s the conclusion?
The culturally deaf need to leave the hard of hearing and non-culturally deaf people alone and the culturally deaf need to stop thinking solely about themselves. They need to stop claiming to support the hard of hearing when they clearly don’t and need to stop claiming they’re helping the hard of hearing by insisting upon them learning sign language that won’t help them any.
The hard of hearing and the non-cultural deaf are in the same camp together in that we are already involved in the mainstream cultures involving the world of sound and noise and would prefer to stay in our already existing cultures we’re a part of, instead of leaving those cultures in favor of one that’s alien to our own and often clashing with our own cultural sensibilities and taboos.