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Who Should We Be Educating? The Hearing Person or the Hearing Impaired Individual?

Did you know the last week of September is Deaf Awareness Week?  For quite some time, many Deaf organizations put on festivals, lectures and focus educating the public about Deaf Culture.  Also, the festivals offer and opportunity for Deaf to get together.  I can’t help but wonder where that leaves the rest of us who are hearing impaired.  We don’t have a hearing-impaired culture. We’re just “hearing impaired.”   Some disagree, but I feel as though Deaf Culture receives much more attention than the hearing impaired.

Sometimes, I have difficulty understanding why we are so misunderstood as a group.  Both hearing and hearing-impaired are in denial. Hearing people don’t want to understand.  Being confronted by us only makes it more real.

Sometimes, I wonder whether if we focus on the wrong details when explaining how to communicate with us.  For example, I arranged to have a meeting with some professionals at work.  I told them we’ll need extra time due to my hearing loss, as I wanted to make sure I had enough time to have things rephrased if necessary.   The response was, “Why don’t we use a sign language interpreter?”

Well, that was a nice offer.  Though I do sign, I prefer captioning.  My work will not pay for that.  Yes, I know I can push the ADA buttons.  But the truth is, they cannot afford it.  Then, why can they afford an interpreter? Because they already employ paid interpreters in the organization.  My point here being is that everyone assumes we know sign language.  Hearing people do not understand why we don’t sign.   We need a month where we educated people aggressively about hearing loss.  46 million  Americans ages 12 and up  have a hearing loss and those numbers are increasing daily.

Technology has truly advanced but hearing aids are not a miracle potion and Audiologists too, have a great deal to learn about hearing loss.  These days, Audiologists are programmers who basically fine tune the aid for us but many of them are in desperate need of training to understand hearing loss as a human factor.  So back to my original point, we need to come together as a group to not only educate hearing people but to educate those who are quickly joining our ranks.  I plan to continue to get involved online and at work.  What do you plan to do?

“Helen Keller once said, ‘Blindness separates us from things, but deafness separates us from people,'”

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