You are bringing back flashbacks of a certain woman in some of my classes recently. She was not totally deaf; I don’t know the degree of deafness she had. She had an interpreter in her classes and she had some kind of amplifier that she used. The classes met mostly online, with some on campus days. Day one, we are “introducing” ourselves online and she says she’s deaf. Ok. She participates in class just fine or so it seemed–in fact, she rather monopolized class “discussion” online with the instructor egging her on. It got to be a joke–we could almost time the prof’s response (always positive, no matter what input the deaf person made) to her–all the while the prof is ignoring other, more informed responses.
Fast forward to on campus: she again monopolized class with the aid of her interpreter. She sat in front of the class and then would say stuff like, “That person has to speak up!” when someone would make a comment from the back. She told people to talk more slowly because she didn’t catch what they said (she lip read, fair enough), but mostly she was just obnoxious about her “differently abled” self. She wanted to be treated like any other student, but then got upset when she wasn’t catered to.
But the worst thing was when we were in a circle (god knows why–grad school can be a lot like kindergarten)–we had to relate our favorite childhood book to our decision to become librarians or some such, and tell a few things about ourselves. This person said she was deaf, that she had an interpreter with her, that her favorite childhood book was X and that she had recently lost a lot of weight and was no longer fat… all the while standing next to someone who’s BMI had to be in the 30s. I can only suppose she was also tone deaf, socially. (that and she was still well, kind of hefty, made her comment odd to say the least).
I don’t say she’s representative of all (or even many) deaf or Deaf people–she got into grad school, so she must have some degree of literacy and intelligence. No doubt she has both, but her social “skills” (the monopolizing of class, the rudeness) coupled with an overweening sense of superiority (she worked at a famous library as an aide) did not endear her to her fellow students.
But what bothered me most was the response she got from others: they bent over backwards for her, catered to her ego, excused what would have been confronted or condemned in a hearing person. How is this helpful to anyone? It’s a natural impulse, I suppose (I see it happen to people in wheelchairs, this able person guilt or whatever), and it’s better than regarding those with handicaps as freaks (or being afraid of them), but it seems to me we have a long way to go before the blind, deaf, wheelchair-bound are truly mainstreamed.
I am sorry that the Deaf community has responded to CIs as some sort of threat. I remember the demonstrations at Gaulladet when the new President (provost?) was chosen and she was deemed “not deaf enough”. Gah.