Born Deaf vs Late Deafened…

I think of my deafness as an affliction that I must daily try to overcome in order to go about my business in the hearing world. That is not the case with some, perhaps most, who are born deaf. They claim they celebrate their deafness to the degree that they deem giving any child who is deaf a cochlear implant is child abuse! A cochlear implant is a device that is surgically inserted into a deaf person’s hearing system to allow many of them to hear.

The deaf who strongly identify with their deafness are know as the Deaf Culture with a capital “D”. As I said above they celebrate the deafness and do not wish to join the hearing world. In large population areas they, like many minorities, tend to associated primarily with others like themselves. Where possible they shop at deaf retailers, get their haircut from deaf barbers, etc. There are some who are late deafened who choose to join the Deaf culture but they are by far the minority of that culture. In fact many who are born deaf hold an animosity towards those of us who went deaf after being fully associated with the hearing world. One of the reasons for this is that we use English Sign Language instead of ASL. They say we are polluting their language by putting it in an English word order. Don’t get me wrong; those who have an animosity toward other deaf people are an extreme minority of the population much like the 9/11 terrorists are an extreme minority of the Muslim population. (I am definitely not saying the Deaf culture folks are terrorist so please don’t go there.)

In my experiences many in the Deaf Culture crowd see their population constantly dwindling each and every year due to cochlear implants and other medical advances. They seem to see the writing on the wall that soon, probably within a couple more generations, they will be a much smaller group than they are today. This greatly threatens their way of life. In that regard I can understand their feelings and have a degree of compassion for them. But life must go on and in the hearing world.

And the journey goes on….

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