Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Is she deaf or not?

Inspired by other blogger moms,I recently prepared a handout for Rhianna's teachers explaining her CI and giving some tips on how to work with her.A few people read it before it got to the teachers and one person asked.."Why do you say that she's deaf?"

"Because she IS?", I answered.

"No she's not..she can hear now", stressed the person.

"Yeah,but not without the CI.She has no hearing whatsoever without it", I explained.

"But you can write here that she has hearing problem and not use the word deaf.It'll hurt her to hear that word when she's older",the person was so adamant that the deaf terminology is such a taboo and the word should not be said out loud.

"But she is deaf and she needs to know that and be proud of herself ", I answered.

"Hmm...I still don't think that you should say that word",concluded the person.

That conversation left me thinking..

I have a lot of feelings and experience a lot of emotions once I discovered that my child is deaf.Sadness,fear,guilt,determination,hope and many others that I can't name but shame is never one of them.
I have long decided that I would change all the negative emotions into positive ones.I would teach my child to be proud of her bionic ear and not hide the device away.Later she'll learn to advocate for herself and explain to others about her deafness and how she hears through the miracle of CI.

I think she's already on the right track as I watched her playing on the playground today.A 5 year old boy was attracted to the blinking light on her ear and came over to inspect.She didn't shy away,instead she patiently stood still and let the boy look but when the boy tried to touch her ear she pushed him away and said "no!"

I think she can fight her own battle now..then again she was always the feisty one.

I hope,she will learn that there's no shame in being deaf.There is actually a lot of pride in being a deaf individual who can hear and speak well considering how much effort it takes for her to learn to listen.

What do you think? Is 'deaf' not the correct word to use?

If you see her on the playground..stay away!She kicks a****


  1. Oh dear... here we go again. This is an unresolved debate.

    The Deaf community (capital D denoting their way of life that is immersed in everything related to deafness, e.g. sign language), would cringe at the phrase 'hearing impairment' or 'hearing impaired'. Their stand is, they are not impaired, they are just deaf.

    'Hearing impairment' (and its variants) comes from a medical perspective of the condition - hence it needs a diagnosis, intervention, etc.

    Being trained under both medical and sociological models, I used both interchangeably in my thesis. I was cautioned by the thesis examiner - resulting in the omission of 'deafness' and I am forced to only use with 'hearing impairment', though in my heart they are one of the same.

    When Rhianna is old enough to discuss 'political issues', let her decide which term she's comfortable with. Meanwhile, I say to all well-meaning people out there - Yanti has the prerogative to use whichever phrase she wants to use, until Rhianna herself says otherwise.

  2. I say deaf. It's short, sweet, and to the point. If a person has a lesser degree of hearing loss, a standard phrase is "hard of hearing". But with Ben, I say he's deaf. And like you, I feel no shame in this. Obviously, some people think that being deaf is shameful, something to be embarrassed about. I feel that's all the more reason to use the word, and to use it proudly.

    Also, some people think that a CI is a "cure" for deafness. I explain that a CI gives him access to sound, but that he's still deaf, with and without it.