So, I was channel-surfing the tv earlier, and came across Extreme Home Makeover doing their make-you-cry shit. Only this time, it was for the Oregon School for the Deaf. Now don’t get me wrong here–I’m glad OSD got a a new dorm; deaf schools have been in decline for a long time, ever since mainstreaming became widespread. So its good to see deaf people get something good coming their way. Lord knows we aren’t all so lucky. The only thing is, with this episode, they made way too big of a deal about deaf kids getting hearing aids. “Oh my goodness, HEARING AIDS! Isn’t that wonderful? They can hear now! Oh happy day! Birds! Music! Now, they can be like US!”
Patronizing shit like that pisses me off. Look, I wear hearing aids, and I’m glad to have them, and I know those kids probably are too, but do you really have to act like hearing–or not hearing–is the most god-damned interesting or important thing to think or talk about? Honestly!
Heres a cluebat. Its not. Hearing aids are tools. Not even the most important tool. What are our most important tools? Our eyes. Our hands. Our sign language. Our friends and family. These are what we use to get on in the world, these we use to connect to people. These are what define us. Hearing aids–and the limited range of hearing they give us–are but a minor aspect of our lives. They complement our use of eyes, hands, language, and social networks. They do not replace them. To act as if giving us this thing is the greatest thing ever is to completely dismiss the wealth of experience and depth of life we already have.
The best thing you can do for deaf people is not giving them “the gift of hearing”, its treating us as if IT DOESN’T MATTER WHETHER OR NOT WE CAN HEAR.
Because, for a great many of us, it doesn’t. We don’t give a fuck. And we would appreciate it if you would stop obsessing about our so-called disability. We are people first, for christ’s sake. Accommodate us. Respect us. Love us. But do not patronize us.