Redefining Deafness

As I was going through my old files, cleaning up my computer, found a few of papers that I wrote for a seminary extension class a few years ago. I read it and pretty much still stand by what I wrote….check it out!

Redefining Deafness                                                                

May 21st, 2005  By: Steve Dye            

While I was reading Chapter 2 about the changes in the deaf world of “Deaf Diaspora”, so many memories came back to me after reading that short piece of information. It mainly spoke about “gaining or having access to the Deaf World.” Many deaf who are mainstreamed will never gain that “membership,” sadly.            

In the beginning when I was entering the Deaf World, it was not easy to learn the language in a time where my wife was so used to ASL. Many times I have been labeled “hard of hearing” instead of deaf. Many times I have been asked which residential Deaf school did I attend, only to be turned off when I share that I was mainstreamed. Many times have I been asked if I am hearing because of my strong social and verbal skills. Many times have I been asked if my children are Deaf or hearing. In my mind, I know why these questions are being asked, but its sad to see that Deaf cannot see beyond those questions and visualize what’s really important. The book explained that many Deaf blame the “mainstreaming of deaf kids” as one of the reasons of the Deaf world declining. I have always disagreed with that. Why? Because we cannot argue with what God was already planning years and years ago. But for the non-Christian Deaf, that comment means worthless. What would I say to them of the reasons why the deaf schools are declining? I have no answer. Only to say that I know the majority of the time, it is the parent’s decision to pull Deaf children out and put them into mainstreamed schools. I also would tell them that the success rate for Deaf residential schools are not the same as before. I would also say, from what I have been told, that the Deaf children’s safety would be more in mainstreamed schools than in Deaf schools. Why? Because many Deaf students have been raped, sexually abused, verbally abused, physically abused, and the list just keeps going. I would think that being able to go to school everyday and come home to the parents everyday (hearing or not), would build up a secure feeling that someone cares about them. Whereas, many Deaf are left at Deaf schools all week, and sometimes never came home except for special occasions in the past. This is probably one of the reasons why Deaf people have no sense of family-time, or closeness to family, or respect of other family when they want to be left alone. Because they, themselves, never had the idea taught to them what a family does on a regular day-to-day basis.           

Membership to a Deaf World is not as important to some. But for those who are married to a Deaf person or the majority of their friends are Deaf, it may be important. Its sad to see that in a world that “takes care of its own,” it will not include everyone who is adequately able to fit in. For the “hard-of-hearing” people or those who think “hearing”, we are stuck in between both worlds which we operate sometimes as a liaison. Is that good? In most cases, yes. Will the label of being a “mainstreamed, oral-deaf, hard-of-hearing” person ever come off? No. But to think ahead in the future, all of our “labels” will come off eventually when we get to Heaven. I mean its not like Jesus will sign to the deaf, then put his hands down and start speaking clearly to the hard-of-hearing, and then talk normal to the hearing people. That’s silly. Jesus will speak loud and we will all hear it, period! So my question to Deaf people all around the world, why can’t we start taking each other’s “labels” off now and enjoy it?

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