Hey fam! I know, right? Two posts in a week after radio silence for ages! Who’d have thunk?
Anyways, on to the topic of our second International Week of the Deaf post: Deafness or deafness?
Many of you are probably wondering what I’m talking about. Aren’t they the same word? Well, yes. But in this context, they are very very different things. You see, what we’re talking about here today is the difference between the capital D– Deafness, and the lowercase d– deafness. First though, some back information.
In the deaf world, there are two views of being deaf. There’s the medical view of deafness, with the purely physical, that’s-all-there-is-to-it, get-aids-and-go-about-your-regular-hearing-life way of seeing things. This is generally the way that medical professionals approach hearing impairment, viewing it simply as a problem to be aided or fixed.
Then there is capital D– Deaf. This takes the perspective that hearing loss isn’t something to be cured, but a part of your identity, a part of the way you approach the world. It brings a beautifully complex language and a tight knit, welcoming community with it, complete with a culture as rich and as full of heart as any other. Also humor. The Deaf make some pretty amazing comedians! There’s something to be said for being able to have a sense of humor through disability.
Members of the Deaf community may have anything from a moderate or mild hearing loss to total deafness. It’s a wide spectrum that encompasses the many flavors of hearing impairments, from the physical (damage to the ear, cochlea, etc) to the neurological (auditory neuropathy, Usher’s disease, etc.). However, it’s not the hearing loss that defines someone in the Deaf community, it’s the participation. The enjoyment one finds in spending time with people like themselves. The inclusion where you were once excluded, the relief that fills you when you realize that everyone there communicates in a way that is compatible with you rather than you struggling to keep up with them.
It’s friendship and acceptance. It’s no one thinking your strange when your brain gets tired and the hearing aids just have to come off.
Not everyone in the Deaf community is necessarily deaf. There are hearing parents and children, family, teachers and interpreters. All of the people that find themselves brought together into a vast network that spans the world wide. It’s the sharing of language and understanding, of shared hurts and of the experiences and joys that another simply couldn’t understand. In this age of technology, when we have the world literally at our fingertips, this is more true than ever. It’s nothing at all to find other people like yourself on the internet, whatever community you may be a part of.
Still confused? Do you have your own thoughts or experiences you would like to share? Let us know in the comments! And as always, friend,
I leave you now with Peace and Passion.