Dear fellow D/deafies,
I have something to say. I feel we need to support each other more before expecting hearing people or other disabled people to do the same.
There’s been a few times in my life that I thought D/deaf people weren’t very open to my situation. I was a young deaf person without a strong deaf identity.
This made me feel even more lost until I learnt British Sign Language in London and found others like me. However, at one point in my life both D/deaf and hearing people said that I either wasn’t deaf or was not deaf enough.
This was because I am able to use a telephone or mobile phone to speak to others without specialist equipment to some degree (before getting tired from not being able to lip read the speaker).
Or often because I speak like a hearing person and people forget I may not always respond correctly in noisy environments, echoey places and open spaces. The same applies to quiet voices and whispers too. I cannot always pick them up with my hearing aids.
It hurt. It really hurt when people on both sides of the spectrum questioned my deafness.
We D/deafies also have different views on hearing instruments such as hearing aids and cochlear implants.
We seem to have a big divide in the community on what’s right for the vast majority of D/deaf people – not realising everyone’s deafness is unique to themselves.
We also seem to debate whether learning how ones deafness came about is important or not – genetic testing. I myself have been tested as I was curious if what I’ve been told all my life was true. It turns out my deafness wasn’t caused by the MMR jab when I was a baby, but by a gene.
We also, quite rightly so, fight for sign language to be taught in schools and to be recognised as a language too. We should remember that not every deaf person has access to sign language as the area they live in may not have native sign language speakers. This was my situation when I grew up, until I moved to larger cities.
We could encourage both deaf and hearing people to learn in a relaxed manner so that people don’t feel forced to learn. When you feel forced you are less likely to do something.
Working with disabled teenagers made me realise I’ve had little contact with other disabilities before working with them and little awareness of the barriers they will face to get equal rights.
I could go on and on but I think you get the gist. I feel we as a D/deaf community need to welcome all kinds of deafness and experiences and not disregard someone because we don’t or can’t relate to them.
Lianne Herbert is a deaf professional writer who can be followed on Twitter here. Lianne is also on a Copywriting course to enhance her freelance prospects. She is currently involved with the West Yorkshire Playhouse on a Playwright course.
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