Fuck you, Deaf "Community"

  1. My 4-year-old daughter is deaf. She is not “Deaf” with a capitol D. She simply has no hair cells in her cochlea, she has no functioning inner ear. Even though she is deaf, she is not automatically part of your little world of shame and exclusion, and her native language is not ASL. It is not child abuse if we decide to raise her in a household that speaks English. So: fuck you for claiming her as your own, without a second thought to the wishes of her parents.

  2. We gave our daughter cochlear implants when she was an infant. We made this long and difficult decision based on the research that was available to us, based on the educational resources available in our area, based on the nature of her deafness, and, yes, based on our own biases and desires. She had her surgeries before she was old enough to make the choice for herself, because to wait so long means to give her hearing long after her developing brain can make the best use of it. It is a well-known and long-researched phenomenon that pre-lingual implantation leads to vastly improved speech and hearing skills. But you call it child abuse. You call it cosmetic surgery on an infant, and more than once you called me a monster for it. It is not child abuse, to make complicated decisions about your kids without their input - it’s called parenting. Nor is it cosmetic to give my kid a developmental boost. So: fuck you for heaping accusations of pre-lingual cosmetic surgery child abuse on me.

  3. Our family is learning ASL, and have been since we learned our daughter was profoundly deaf. We will use sign as a second language, indefinitely. My wife is in school to become an interpreter. Nor do we believe in a purely oralist tradition; we acknowledge the importance of communication between deaf people without assistance. We get it, ok? We’re committed. But because we gave our daughter cochlear implants, you automatically believe that we’re out to destroy ASL, to destroy Deaf culture. You never listen to our reasoning, because what do we know? We’re motivated by a desire to mingle in both worlds, and yet we’re constantly scoffed at by the Deafies on principle. So: fuck you for your pernicious false dichotomies.

  4. Speaking of false dichotomies: what the hell do you mean by the “Hearing Community”? You mean the 99% of the world…with functional ears? They form a single community separate from your own? Because obviously it’s the Deaf Community vs. the world. Yeah, fuck you and your false dichotomies, again.

  5. It’s funny how your handicap isn’t a handicap. You aren’t missing a major sensory organ, it’s simply that you have chosen a primary language which is signed rather than spoken. You embrace and welcome the nature of your language and your community, and you are, you say, just as capable as any hearing person. I get it - it’s not a handicap. It’s not a disability. You feel that there’s nothing wrong with your bodies. You aren’t broken machines in need of repair. You’re not incomplete people deserving of pity. You’re a close-knit community because, I gather, there’s a conspiracy of doctors and audiologists and educators and academics and hearing-aid industry types, who are, to a person, out to suck your wallets dry then utterly crush and humiliate you, simply because…they hate your lifestyle choice. But you look past all that. You’re complete and beautiful human beings and you’re happy with the way God created you. There’s nothing wrong with being deaf. Deafness is beautiful! So fuck you for demanding - and happily accepting - constant special accommodation for your alleged non-handicap. (And fuck you for demanding respect and understanding from my family, without giving us any in return.)

  6. Your precious ASL doesn’t have a sweet simplicity; it’s just as capricious and arbitrary and fucked-up as any other language. I mean, come on! In our current class, we’re learning three - THREE - different signs for the word “car”. Which you don’t apparently use interchangeably. What the hell? It kind of messes up your principle of “conceptual accuracy”. Especially considering that there are many signs for most common words. A lot of the difference is regional, but a lot is just “we do it this way, they do it that way”. ASL is, simply, fragmented. English, at least, has standardized on “wh” question words: “who”, “why”, etc. But English, even in signed form, is “too ugly” for you. Fuck you and your “beautiful language” high horse.

  7. ASL purists, who want to distance ASL from English as much as possible, who advocate removing as much fingerspelling from the language as possible, who want to remove as many initial letters (“T” for toilet, “B” for box, etc.) as possible… yeah, I see you fingerspelling common words, I see you happily using intial letters. Fuck you for…well, for being uppity elitists. Go drive a Hummer while you’re at it.

  8. ASL has no written form. It must use another language - the hated and maligned English - for written communication. Therefore, it’s nigh-impossible to look up a new word by its sign. Therefore, memorization plays a much larger role in ASL than in most languages. Therefore, more effort goes into learning how to sign, when other kids are learning how to read and write. Guess what kind of impact that has on illiteracy rates? And…you seem to prefer it that way? Before I met y’all I thought the illiteracy was the result of educational and developmental difficulties. But the more Deaf people I meet, the more I find that you don’t much care about reading and writing proper English. ASL and TV is all you need. So…yeah. Fuck you for that, too. By the way, my deaf daughter is learning how to read, you dipshits.

  9. While I’m at it, Alexander Graham Bell has been dead for 86 fucking years. When he was alive, he didn’t gas any Deaf babies, he didn’t sterilize anyone. If you honestly believe that he wanted to prevent deaf people from reproducing, even when his mother and wife were deaf, then I honestly believe you’re pretty damn stupid. At any rate, it’s a vastly different world today than it was back then. Believe you me, there are plenty of other villains to worry about today. Fuck you for not getting over A.G. Bell already.

  10. Again with the calling me an audist in denial of your beautiful heritage. Which is funny, because from my perspective, you’re being “deafists” in denial of your own handicaps. But you don’t see me calling you out on it several times a week. Fuck you and your utter lack of tact.

But mostly, fuck you for putting a claim on my kid. I’ve been at this for more than four years, and you’re just getting more hostile at us hearing-family-with-deaf-child-who-has-cochlear-implants. Our world, the world of the hearing, the world we’re raising our girl in, the world you loathe so much – our world is fucked up, sure, but it’s roses and cotton candy and day-long free pony rides compared to yours.

I agree. I can understand being OK with your body, but it’s highly insulting to people like you that don’t WANT your child to be deaf or to be born into the culture. It’s OK to not want your child to live with a handicap!

Since when is cosmetic surgery on an infant a bad thing? what about cleft palettes? SHould those not be fixed? What about my friends baby with the 11th finger. Should it not have been removed? There are deformities and handicaps that are fixed routinely. Deafness IS one of them!

Deaf people shouldn’t be ashamed of being deaf and shouldn’t be made to feel that way, but I can’t understand this persecuted attitude that makes these nutcases want to attack people who are taking care of the children, and not only doing the smart thing but the right thing in the process. It’s incredibly shitty and presumptuous and mean-spirited, and it’s not prejudiced. I’m glad the nearsighted community didn’t send nasty messages to my parents when they got me glasses as a kid. Lord knows what culture I missed out on.

That is some powerful strong anger. And I agree with every word.


Man, I hear you.

[shrug] Bitch all you like now, but when she’s 17 you’ll be sending her to Gallaudet. Where else?

Maybe, shaped by your influence, she might shake things up a little there, culturally.

This is second hand anecdote, but since we’re here, I might as well:

When my daughter failed her first three hearing tests*, my mom got inexplicably freaked out. I mean, the possibility of having a deaf granddaughter must be unsettling, but frankly, we knew a 23 week gestation micropreemie was running pretty good odds for *something *being wrong, and of all the things possible, deafness didn’t strike me as all that bad. It took her a while to finally tell me what the real problem was, and it was this: she’s spent 26 years teaching sixth grade. Along the way she’s had her fair share (more, actually, 'cause she’s one of the really good teachers) of students with disabilities. Blind kids, developmentally delayed kids, deaf kids, autistic kids, behavioral disorder kids - and, she says, of all of them, the deaf people are the most screwed up. Especially the ones who don’t understand English or read or write. She says they’re in their own little angry depressed worlds, no matter how kind she tries to be or how many veteran teacher techniques she uses to draw them out and include them in the class. I was shocked - I was far more worried about blindness than deafness, to be honest.

It sounds like you’re doing everything you can to give your daughter more opportunities and more ways of connecting with a far greater variety of people than these hate filled jerks have. That’s got to be a good thing, I don’t care how much “pride” they have in their insularity. Fuck 'em.

*She’s not deaf, just a heavy sleeper. Or something. Later tests found no problems.

Subway Prophet writes:

> Therefore, more effort goes into learning how to sign, when other kids are
> learning how to read and write.

There is some question about this. Some researchers claim that a child can be taught to use a sign language faster than an oral language.

> ASL has no written form.

There’s nothing keeping it from having a standard written form except that no one has bothered to create it. A written language for ASL would be no more or less artificial than written English is relation to spoken English. Written English is a lot different than spoken English.

I have deaf students in my classes at Not Gallaudet. I also have blind students and chair-using students. The more the merrier.

What do the deaf have against Bell? I know the Italians hate him, but what do the deaf have a beef with? Hell, Helen Keller dedicated her books to him. I am truly confused.

Oh, and I sympathize with your rant. Several years ago, out theater department worked with a local school for the deaf on a production of Children of a Lesser God. The kids were OK, if a little I don’t know…elitist (there were a lot of private jokes and laughing at our kids who were trying to communicate), but for the love of God, the teachers from that school…apparently anything and everything was designed to insult them somehow.

SP: Good on you.

Getting surgical treatment of congenital deafness is pefectly ethical - we don’t wait for surgical interventions for congenital heart defects, skeletal/muscular defects, gastrischisis and the like.

The human animal was “designed”/evolved to use sound. By default, our brains process it, our ears detect it. Sound is a major, major, majorly important external environmntal input. Hearing is as critical as sight and touch.

To fetishize a hearing defect is ridiculous. It is one thing to demand equal respect for a person who is deaf, and quite another to demand that the hearing defect be completely discounted.

It is critical that a birth defect be openly and honestly acknowledged and dealt with in order to maximze the potential of the affected child. Putting the defect in its proper context requires that we not, for good or for ill, define the child in terms of the defect. Marginalizing/Lionizing the deaf defines the child primarily in terms of deafness.

My daughter’s first word was “eat”, and she said it when she was 9 months old. She signed it. (My wife then handed her the coveted french fry, and the kid stuffed it into her mouth and promptly spat it back out. She’s learned to love them since, however.)

But you know what? I don’t really care about how fast she picks up language. As long as we got her started early, and as long as she can write an intelligible, structured essay by 12th grade, well then her language development is just fine by me. A majority of hearing kids in our demographic can do this. A majority of deaf kids cannot.

This skill is critical - CRITICAL - to stimulating your intellect. It is essential for continuing education, for getting good jobs. Being able to read and write well opens far more doors than any ADA-based government program can.

I’ve heard (and made) this argument before, but it doesn’t really hold water.

Written English differs from spoken English, true. But not by a lot. You can write English exactly as it’s spoken, and be understood. You can speak English exactly as it’s written, and be understood. In most cases, you won’t even sound like a dork. The written and spoken forms simply are not that different from each other.

ASL differs a lot from English. As in, even if you had complete mastery over the differences in vocabulary, the grammars are still different. More than just the grammar - punctuation, empahsis, timing - ASL is vastly different from English, or any written language.

Plenty of people have “bothered to create” a written form of ASL, but they’ve all been failures, lacking in various vital areas - e.g. hand location, direction, etc. - but most notably acceptance by the ASL crowd.

I fear that this is an implicit attribute with ASL. It excludes - and thereby discourages - written communication.

If people are going to make us pretend they don’t have a handicap due to political correctness, then they don’t get the right to try to sympathy us into special treatment when they actually have a handicap.

I agree with the OP, most individuals that suffer fron some type of physical malady likely need to assume a “rugged individualist” attitude to some degree just in order to maintain their sanity.

But when an organized charity or group that presupposes to represent a group of people that share a handicap, their ability to simply proselytize to the masses and shape a form of groupthink about a disability and how they view a family should deal with it are often varying perceptions.

I’m with the OP…holding your post at truth, it’s time for the middle finger and some stand-offishness of your own.

Good job. Great rant stylistically and humor-wise, and more importantly, relevant.

How’s about NTID? Among other things, AIUI NTID is very well integrated with the rest of the RIT community, which might be an bonus in some people’s eyes.

Gallaudet isn’t the only option for the hearing impaired.

IIRC, we once had a poster who referred to those with cochlear implants as “the frankendeaf”.
(handy). Fortunately, said person was banned a long time ago.

So good luck with those you’re up against.

Without googling it, because I’d rather read what the OP says, what are the success rates of cochlear implants?

And if they aren’t entirely successful, do they afford some type of rudimentary hearing?


A.G. Bell’s thing was that he believed deaf people could be mainstreamed into society. His teaching philosophy was decidedly anti-sign language. Since the Deaf Community holds ASL to be the glue that binds them together… well, you can see how they perceive Bell’s philosophy as an existential attack on their culture.

Bell was also a supporter of Eugenics, in a time when Eugenics was a raging fad in many parts of American society, including the scientific and academic sectors. Note that I’m defending his sympathies, here. But I recognize that he had changed his stance many times over the years. And obviously, Bell didn’t lend much support towards preventing deaf people from breeding, since he and his children all had a deaf parent.

BTW, Helen Keller was, apparently, brainwashed to act as a shill for Bell. A dedicated socialist, too. None of the Deafies I’ve interacted with think much of her.

There’s an insult in ASL which took me a while to figure out.

The sign for “hearing” is to repeatedly roll your right-hand index finger in front of your bottom jaw, indicating (ultimately) that the subject can hear his or her own voice.

The sign for “thinking like a hearing person” is to do this sign in front of the forehead.

I laughed when I figured it out, then used it casually in conversation, then someone took me aside and explained it to me. When I saw that sign being used, it was not meant to be a funny kind of joke. A hearing person doesn’t understand Deaf people. A hearing person constantly makes assumptions which are insulting to a Deaf person. A hearing person is stupid.

Children of a Lesser God was made by hearing people, for hearing people. The protagonist was a Deaf person who was lonely because she couldn’t talk. If you think about it, it’s kind of silly, since she signs, and everyone around her at the school signs, so either she’s lonely because (a) she’s a genuinely bitter and socially-removed person who has no love in her life, or (b) she wants to have hearing and reject her deafness. I think that most people who watched the movie figured it was really (a). A lot of Deaf people think the message was (b) and hated the film and everyone associated with it.

The success rate is far from 100%. There are significant medical risks, since it’s essentially brain surgery (drilling a hole into the skull to hook up an electrode strip directly to a nerve - that’s close enough to brain surgery for my tastes.) There have been cases of meningitis due to an infection in the auditory nerve.

There’s also varying degrees of effectiveness with the implant once it’s in. Just mapping the processors (i.e. “tuning” the device) is a long process. Sometimes an implant won’t connect well to the auditory nerve. Sometimes the implant will stop working, and require a second surgery to replace it (we did this last year, in fact.)

And if you get the implant as a prelingually-deaf adult, odds are that you’ll never hear speech well enough to stop having to lip-read. The brain doesn’t learn as quickly as an adult, and an unstimulated cochlea will ossify - slowly turn to bone - which will have a direct impact on efficacy. There are many prelingually-deaf adults who got the implant who later regretted it.

Having said that, if you implant before the age of, say, 3, then you have a real good chance of giving the kid hearing while the brain can really learn how to hear.

My daughter got hers at 10 and 13 months, and at age 4 1/2 can hold a conversation with me without needing to read my lips. Did we get lucky? I don’t know.

Finally, there are some who say it isn’t really hearing. That it’s just computer-processed noise that helps one distinguish between some, but not all, kinds of sound. I think that argument’s bullshit. It takes sound waves, converts them into a signal that the nerve can understand, which the brain then processes into a sensory input. That’s sound, dude. Saying it’s not hearing is like arguing that you don’t see the color blue the way I do - yet as long as we both see the same color, we’re both seeing blue, though perhaps are different degrees of perception.

My wife just called me. She stayed back at the school after my little dust-up happened, while I came and posted here - and she had a little post-mortem discussion about the incident.

I may have to retract point #3 - the punk who was pissing me off apparently wasn’t getting on my case because of the cochlear implants, but exactly what I did to piss him off isn’t clear.

She did tell me that her ASL interpreting class instructor, who is deaf and a self-proclaimed member of the Deaf Community, supports our decision to implant and doesn’t have anything against CI’s. Of course, she is also fairly literate, which I can’t help but think has something to do with her more sensible attitudes.

Shit. It’s late and I’m tired. We’ll see how this all washes out tomorrow night.