Are there any Deaf left?
I’m worried; very worried.
The Deaf community is at a precipice at this moment in time. Why? Those of us who have a Deaf identity are facing the biggest challenge we’ve ever come across: the desire to be considered “normal”.
I’ve noticed a worrying trend for some time; there seems to be far fewer individuals who are actually proud to be Deaf and dislike the terms “hearing impaired”, “hearing loss”, “hard of hearing” etc.
More and more deaf children are being educated in the mainstream which means individuals are being completely isolated from the Deaf community, and most importantly, BSL and exposure to the positivity associated with being Deaf as opposed to trying to conform with hearing peers and hearing families and pander to the narrow-mindedness of medical professionals.
There seems to be a growing tendency for friends of mine who I always thought were proud to be Deaf to opt for a cochlear implant.
Now, I don’t have anything against CIs per se, if the implantee makes the decision knowing the full facts and associated risks. It’s only when children who don’t have a say in the decision to have a CI are forced by parents who are being influenced by medical professionals and the medical model of deafness and their insecurities and desire for their kids to grow up normal I have an issue with.
I recently discovered that 90 percent of deaf children now have CIs. That’s a gobsmacking statistic.
However, in the last 3 months, two friends have had CIs, another is planning to have one, and yet another is thinking about it. The one thinking about it is a friend I’ve always considered to have a strong non-conformist Deaf identity.
Why is it happening? Why are my friends so eager to be able to “hear” all of a sudden? Aren’t they proud to be Deaf any more?
Action on Hearing
The RNId’s £320,000 rebranding has sickened me. Hell bent on a mission to cure deaf people, while providing communication and social care services which contradict it’s new vision, the RNId, now known as Action on Hearing
Loss, is portraying Deaf people as freaks of nature who are all desperate to be cured.
I abhor the whole concept of AOHL. It stinks. It’s a massive encroachment on my self-esteem and self-worth as a human being. And worst of all, AOHL is just a brand; the RNId is still the RNId – have a look at the footer on the new AOHL website or on the Charity Commission’s website if you don’t believe me – which means that they still profess to represent Deaf people!
And yet, there are Deaf camps who are welcoming this change of focus. *shudder*
Deaf4Life is currently consulting its members to consider a change of name. The options are “Deaf Forum” or “Hearing Loss Forum”. I’d be happy with “Deaf Forum” but “Hearing Loss Forum” makes me shudder.
The moderators say that hard of hearing people are put off joining the forum because it says “Deaf”. Well, I’m sorry, but I don’t think hard of hearing people need to belong to a community. They are hearing. End of. They may have deteriorating hearing for various reasons but they are predominantly hearing. With some assistance from hearing aids, they don’t face the barriers and discrimination Deaf people have to put up with on a day-to-day basis.
The fact that hard of hearing people may not necessarily meet the definition of disability under the Equality Act 2010 – a physical or mental impairment that has a substantial and long term adverse effect on a person’s ability to carry out day-to-day activities – speaks volumes (no pun intended).
Why are Deaf people pandering to the majority? There are an estimated 125,000 Deaf sign language users in the UK according to the latest GP Survey. That’s compared to 4 million hard of hearing or deafened people (according to AOHL’s revised figures from 8.9 million!).
As a minority, Deaf people need their own space without an invasion of hard of hearing people. Why can’t they go and create their own forum if they’re so desperate to belong to a community?
What to do?
If there was ever a time for Deaf people to unite and present a united force, it is NOW.
I’m worried; very worried.