Thursday, January 15, 2009

Audism: I Need a Definition and Some History...

I'm getting more involved in the Italian Deaf Forum and someone posted this:

"Well then, to say it succinctly, the term "Audism" is widespread in America and it means literally, "discrimination against Deaf people." Audism is a new term that does not exist in Italian dictionaries - it was first mentioned in 1975 by a Deaf American whose name I do not remember- which means that hearing individuals have more advantages than deaf people thereby causing discrimination between the Deaf and hearing, especially in the working and social environment. For some, this term may seem excessive, however, I believe that it does have some truth to what it represents."

I've been called an Audist a couple of times here on, but I don't exactly know the factual, historical significance of the word. I just reply, "Um, I'm not an Audist."

So...could someone give me an education? Be nice!


mishkazena said...

Jodi, did exhibit some audism early on, but it was mostly due to ignorance. However, you kept an open mind and learned a lot. You've come a long way since then

Audism is best defined as a sense of superiority and prejudice a hearing person or an oral deaf person portrays toward a Deaf person incapable of hearing, lipreading, and/or speaking. The Deaf is viewed subjugated, devalued, and invalidated compared to a hearing or an oral deaf person.

Anonymous said...

Audism was first coined by Tom Humphries in 1975, I believe.

It occurs at the Individual, Institutional, and Metaphysical level.

Individual: Hearing people think Deaf people are not capable beings because they can't hear.

Institutional: Organizations (businesses, governments) create barriers to Deaf people because they can't hear or speak (won't hire for jobs, deny Deaf people the right to drive, etc.)

Metaphysical: The "Why" of it all -- Why Hearing people see being Deaf as a disability and "lesser" when they do not hear or speak.

(See article at this link:

Danielle said...

GREAT TOPIC!!! Don G explained it perfect. For more information if you want me to scan the information I have from deaf culture 3 years ago ( which i taught) I would be more than happy to. Audism is a big topic& very interesting.


Anonymous said...

Yep it was Tom Humphries in his unpublished phd dissertation who first coined the term

Anonymous said...

Hello again,
Audism, like other forms of oppression, is based on the view that the lives of people different from me are not as valuable as the lives of people like me. This is why the American Indian tribal names always translate as "the people" (because those others are *not people*). This is also why some Hearing parents get frantic when they find their child is deaf - they cannot imagine that a deaf child can have a *real* life as valuable as their own. Hence the frenzy to "fix" their deaf child.
As Don G. said, audism views Deaf as less than full people,


Anonymous said...

Don is correct. Humphries wrote "audism" in his dissertation. That Latin phrase was also used by St. Augustus, Bishop of Hipppo, St Ignayius of Aquais to tell people that deaf people's souls cannot ne saved because they cannot hear the Word of God.

Harlan Lane came, saw, and conquered the unpublished phrase, "audism" and PUBLISHED it in the form of a book!

In 2002, I found a number of oralists very audistic, so I coined "audists' deaf protégés". Both Dr. Humphries and Dr. Lane adopted my coined phrase. Deaf protégés often write in blogposts, supporting audism -- so cleverly hidden that some readers miss discernimg the hidden audism between the lines in their entries. Very often one would be defensive when caught and would say, "I am still learning about Deaf Culture even though they have already learned as students at Gallaudet ASL 20, 25 years ago. Some deaf protégés call themselves "moderately Deaf.

January 15, 2009 11:56 PM

Unknown said...

Thank you all so much for the information...greatly appreciated and very interesting! Jodi

mishkazena said...

Jodi, there is a term called reverse audism... the one the former Gallaudet president appointee used when she claimed she wasn't accepted because she was 'Not Deaf Enough'.

One needs to tread very carefully with using either term as these terms can be misused.

Beaux Arts de Boutjean said...

The international organisation for the deaf -- World Federal for the
Deaf based in Sweden. It is a member of the United Nations. Scholars and extremely well learned deaf people from the four cornerd of the world. Many members of the WFD are from Italy. A year ago (2007, there was a WFD conference held in Barcelona. The president of the WFD is very nice and well-received. You may visit the website of the WFD. Oh, one more thing: hearing parents, who are Deaf advocsates, are "bienvenues" to membership in WFD.