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Self-Advocating

Definitions & Identities

By Deaf Community, Deaf Culture, Identity, Information

The words "Deaf and Hard of Hearing" in rainbow-coloured text. The "i" in "Hearing" is dotted with a ladybug.

The following is an excerpt from the National Association of the Deaf :

The Deaf and hard of hearing community is diverse. There are variations in how a person becomes Deaf or hard of hearing, level of hearing, age of onset, educational background, communication methods, and cultural identity. How people “label” or identify themselves is personal and may reflect identification with the Deaf and hard of hearing community, the degree to which they can hear, or the relative age of onset.

For example, some people identify themselves as “late-deafened,” indicating that they became deaf later in life. Other people identify themselves as “deaf-blind,” which usually indicates that they are Deaf or hard of hearing and also have some degree of vision loss. Some people believe that the term “people with hearing loss” is inclusive and efficient. However, some people who were born Deaf or hard of hearing do not think of themselves as having lost their hearing. Over the years, the most commonly accepted terms have come to be “Deaf,” and “hard of hearing.”

According to Carol Padden and Tom Humphries, in Deaf in America: Voices from a Culture (1988): we use the lowercase deaf when referring to the audiological condition of not hearing, and the uppercase Deaf when referring to a particular group of Deaf people who share a language – American Sign Language (ASL) – a culture, [and community]. The members of this group have inherited their sign language, use it as a primary means of communication among themselves, and hold a set of beliefs about themselves and their connection to the larger society. We distinguish them from, for example, those who find themselves losing their hearing because of illness, trauma or age; although these people share the condition of not hearing, they do not have access to the knowledge, beliefs, and practices that make up the culture of Deaf people.

“Hard-of-hearing” can denote a person with a mild-to-moderate hearing loss. Or it can denote a deaf person who doesn’t have/want any cultural affiliation with the Deaf community. Or both. The HOH dilemma: in some ways hearing, in some ways deaf, in others, neither. Can one be hard-of-hearing and ASL-Deaf? That’s possible, too. Can one be hard-of-hearing and function as hearing? Of course. What about being hard-of-hearing and functioning as a member of both the hearing and Deaf communities? That’s a delicate tightrope-balancing act, but it too is possible. As for the political dimension: HOH people can be allies of the Deaf community. They can choose to join or to ignore it. They can participate in the social, cultural, political, and legal life of the community along with culturally-Deaf or live their lives completely within the parameters of the “Hearing world.” But they may have a more difficult time establishing a  satisfying cultural/social identity. Deaf Life, “For Hearing People Only” (October 1997).

The term “hearing-impaired” is no longer accepted by most in the community and is not a politically correct term. The term “hearing-impaired” is viewed as negative as it focuses on what people can’t do. It establishes the standard as “hearing” and anything different as “impaired,” or substandard, hindered, or damaged. It implies that something is not as it should be and ought to be fixed if possible. Every individual is unique.

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Deaf Don’t Care

By Audism, Cultural & Medical Perspectives, Deaf Culture, Identity, Information

Transcript: Conrad dancing to an internal song. Word PITY appears by his shoulder, he brushes it off. Word PATERNALISM appears at his other shoulder, he also brushes it off. Big DEAF text appears and Conrad signs it. Big I DON’T CARE text appears and Conrad signs it. Word DISORDER flies towards him and Conrad puts up a hand to deflect it. Word DIAGNOSIS flies from other side towards him and he puts up a hand to deflect it. Words HEARING IMPAIRED comes towards him and he dodges it. Conrad then deflects word IDEOLOGY. He signs don’t care towards word CURE. Conrad sweeps away word AUDISM. Conrad deflects word ISOLATION. Big DEAF? text appears and Conrad signs it. Big I’M PROUD text appears and Conrad signs it. Words DISCRIMINATION and OPPRESSION appears above his shoulders and Conrad pushes them off. He ends it with a flourish move- a hand down his face and camera pans towards him. He smiles.

Dear Hearing People

By Deaf Community, Deaf Culture, Identity, Information

A Film by Sarah Snow & Jules Dameron – This film strives to educate hearing people on what they might not know or understand about the Deaf community.

Negotiating Deaf identity in an audist educational environment: an arts based inquiry

By Audism, Information, Research

Negotiating Deaf identity in an audist educational environment: an arts based inquiry by Joanne Weber

An arts based enquiry provides an account of how a Deaf teacher negotiated her identity within an audist educational environment. This enquiry is supported by autoethnographic data gleaned from personal journals and a brief discourse analysis of policy recommendations revealing institutional audism. The account reveals the encounters between the Deaf teacher and her interpreting staff who attempt to undermine her as a supervisor and a teacher. This narrative was initially interpreted as a conflict between strong personalities. In this study, however, the narrative is told against the backdrop of colonialism, and specifically, audism. With insights provided through visual art, the interplay between image and text makes for a richer and multilayered story, revealing injustices, and a much compassionate view of all the players who were struggling with the pain of being subjected to audism.

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Canadian Association of the Deaf - Association des Sourds du Canada

Canadian Association of the Deaf – Association des Sourds du Canada

By Deaf Ecosystem, Organizations, Programs & Services

Canadian Association of the Deaf

The Canadian Association of the Deaf-Association des Sourds du Canada (CAD-ASC) is the oldest national consumer organization of, by and for Deaf individuals in Canada for having its interests represented at national level.

The CAD-ASC was founded in 1940, as the Inter-Provincial Association of the Deaf by the three major regional associations of the Deaf- the Western Canada, the Ontario, and the Eastern Canada Associations with the support of the Montreal Association of the Deaf. It was federally incorporated in 1948, and today includes membership of local, provincial and national Deaf associations from coast to cast.

The CAD-ASC provides consultation and information on Deaf needs and interests to the public, business, media, educators, governments and others. We conduct research and collect data, issue reports, and provide expertise regarding Deaf concerns and rights. We develop and implement pilot programs and “best practices.” We offer assistance to Deaf organizations and service agencies across the country, and also provide a major library and resource centre on deafness at our office in Ottawa, Ontario.

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