Monday, March 2, 2009
Hiding Your Deafness = Being Ashamed??
After translating into Italian Karen Putz's post: Are You in the Deaf/Hard of Hearing Closet? I received a response that I really liked. I wanted to re-translate it into English just to give you a better idea of how experiences are universal.
The gentleman who responded, Giovanni, wrote the following:
I read this woman's experience on Jodi's link and the insensitivity of teachers - especially Music teachers- never ceases to piss me off. Trying to teach a deaf person music even when the person has access to amplification is like trying to put Maradona in a wheelchair. Had I been the mother of that girl, I would have strangled the teacher.
Speaking with regard to the specifics of the subject and thinking about my own experience, what can I say? Over thirty years... it's impossible to hide one's own deafness, moreover it is counterproductive. If someone calls you and you don't respond, that individually rightfully thinks that you are ignoring him. But as soon as you say, "Oh, I apologize for not responding. I'm deaf."- everything is okay. This has happened to me a million times.
And thinking about what the others were saying regarding when I don't hear something and someone responds, "Nevermind," or regarding the difficulties associated with group discussions- I can't tell you how many times I get pissed off when I can't understand or follow a discussion with three or four participants (the cochlear implant isn't a miracle, even though it does help) and so I throw out a "what'd you say?" and people respond, "NOTHING!" Always that damn, "NOTHING!" And I am left curious and frustrated.
I have never hidden the fact that I am deaf (to hide would be the same as feeing ashamed, Jodi?) if someone looks at me in such a way that I realize they are waiting for "an answer," I have no problem telling them that I am deaf. Maybe because I accepted that fact that I am deaf so many years ago, perhaps also because I know I am not alone: in Bologna there were about 200 of us and when we went out, no one was embarrassed to sign, even when people looked at us as if we were aliens.
I don't know if this was the point of your blog post, but this is my experience.
"To hide one's deafness = Being ashamed, Jodi?".
Good question. I'll respond from the perspective of a mother of a deaf child. Hiding Jordan's deafness would not have been a fair choice in respect to him as an individual. I WANT the people surrounding him to know that he IS DEAF, so they can better meet his needs. When people see his ci processor, they realize that he may have difficulty in a noisy environment. If his teachers see his processor, it will remind them that they need to concentrate on maintaining less of a chaotic classroom situation. And if, by chance, some sort of accident happens and I am not by Jordan's side, whomever rushes to his aid will see the processor and know that he is deaf.
I have never hidden his processor using the "long hair" method, because I want my child to be conscious of the fact that I am not in the LEAST bit ashamed or embarrassed by the fact that he is deaf. Then, when he grows up, he will make his own choices as to how to live his life.
The more we speak about issues in deafness by means of internet and television - the more awareness there will be in such matters, so that people will always have less fear, less questions and less absurd reactions.