THE DEAF VIEW

By “Deaf” view, we mean the viewpoint held by persons who consider themselves members of the Deaf Community, who have a sense of cultural identity and pride, and maintain an affinity for other Deaf people around the world. According the the Deaf view, sign language is cherished and promoted as a primary means of communication. It is the birthright of all deaf people, and should not be denied to any deaf child. The Deaf Community includes hearing, hard-of-hearing, and deaf people. If you’d like to share your views, please E-mail us at editor (at) cochlearwar (dot) com.

“There is nothing wrong with being deaf”

Dear Editor,

As a hard-of-hearing mother of two, I felt I had to share my story with you. When I was 16 years old, I was diagnosed with a progressive hearing loss. I have both sensorineural and conductive hearing loss. I was told that one day I could wake up deaf. It was the hardest news I had to face. They did not have cochlear implants back then. I had to learn to “deal” with it.

A good friend of mine, who happens to be deaf, showed me a new world that I could be a part of, if I wanted to. I learned that this was not the end, but the beginning. I learned ASL from him.

I went to college and made more friends. I worked in group homes with deaf adults with emotional, mental problems, and some were handicapped. I’ll tell you when you are first learning to sign and trying to understand what the person talking to you is saying, is a real awakening, especially when deaf retarded adults are communicating with you. I thought I was not understanding them correctly. As a matter of fact, I was . . . they were not making sense. I learned a lot about Deaf Culture, American Sign Language, and about Life. I learned to appreciate and be thankful for what you have because anyone of us can end up like the people I worked with.

I chose to accept the fact that I would no longer be Hearing. I was angry at first. Being 16 is hard enough without being told that you will be losing your hearing. It was not easy. With help from my friends, I learned to cope and knew that I would be okay. I changed my career goal. I married a hearing man and we have two sons.

When our first son was born, we thought everything was great. We had a new baby boy; life was great. When he started developing, we noticed he was not doing the things that babies do. He couldn’t hold his head up; he would learn how to do things and then didn’t do them anymore. I was teaching him to sign because he was not speaking, or even trying to speak. He did not babble like babies do. The signs I had taught him were gone; he did not sign them anymore. It was like I NEVER taught him. At eleven months he had his first seizure. Our son was diagnosed with Autism and Epilepsy.

If God had come to me and said, “I’m going to give you a son with special needs. You pick the special need: Autism and Epilepsy, or Deaf,” I would choose deaf in a heartbeat. With being deaf, I know what to expect. I’ve been there. I know my son would be okay. I know he would grow up, go to college, get married, maybe have kids . . . the world is at his hands. Whatever he wants! Now? I don’t know what the future holds for him now. I know I will do my best to make sure he gets whatever help he needs.

This is why I can tell other parents that being deaf is nothing compared to what other disability your child could have. Being deaf does not mean the end of life . . or the end. I can only say, be grateful that DEAF is the only thing “wrong” with your child. There is nothing “wrong” with being deaf.

My husband asked me how to explain this issue to hearing folk in his class at College. They did not see or understand what the fuss was. I explained it to him like I’m going to explain it to you: Say all the people in the world were PURPLE. If you were not PURPLE you are nothing. You can’t get work, own land, vote, etc. But if you were PURPLE, you could be whatever and do whatever you wanted. All you have to do is take this pill. You take this pill and become PURPLE. Will you take that pill? No. Why not? BECAUSE WHATEVER COLOR YOU ARE, WHATEVER DISABILITY YOU HAVE, THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH YOU! That’s how DEAF feel. There is nothing wrong with being deaf. Just as there is nothing wrong with being White, Black, Latino, Russian, American, Hearing, PURPLE, etc. Some feel that the Cochlear Implant is Genocide.

Yes, your child is deaf. You can cope, you can deal with it. You can teach your child that they are okay and nothing is wrong with them . . . YOU CAN LOVE THEM! You can teach them everything you want them to know. And when the time comes when they are old enough to make decisions of their own . . . they can try this Cochlear Implant. It’s a big risk and a very big decision to make. We want what’s best for our children. My point is there are a lot worse things than being DEAF. AND WHY BE NORMAL?

Thank you for letting me share my story. I wish the best to all the parents our there looking for answers. As I am too! God Bless!

Anita Hawkshaw
Flint, Michigan

THREE LETTERS FROM A NON-VICTIM

The worst obstacle of all

Dear Editor,

Thank you for having this forum. I’ve seen many other forums but they aren’t as objective as yours is. Having opportunities for both sides of CIs is very refreshing. It’s not a one-sided issue. Many seek to implant the person without even knowing why the person is deaf! My hearing loss is not really a “loss” because I don’t miss it! When I became deaf there were no such things as cochlear implants. All I had was a basic hearing-aid and being constructive myself about how to adapt to things. And that’s another thing—many aren’t bothered by being deaf. And many adjust to it. I’ve met many who have done very well while they are deaf. Being deaf does not hold a person back as much as attitudes about being deaf do.

As a result of being constructive and adaptive ever since childhood, I got my education. And yet, some people say that hearing is needed for learning! How can a child learn when they are trying to adapt to a CI? I was able to learn many thing without hearing, without a CI.. Among the things I learned was ASL. This has helped me adapt even further! It’s possible for people to learn and adapt. The most important thing I learned was that being deaf was not a tragedy. I have learned from being deaf so I don’t want that taken away. Other deaf can learn too. Their learning should not be taken away.

I come from a deaf family, which helped. No one in my family has a problem with being deaf. Why should they? They are successful while being deaf so a cochlear implant would not help them at all. My family has helped a lot. I don’t believe a cochlear implant would take the place of learning things from my family. I’ve also learned many things from other deaf.

A deaf person can do whatever they want. The worst obstacle is not believing in themselves and believing that being deaf is a problem.

Deafness cannot and does not need to be undone. My family has learned to live with their being deaf as I have. Being deaf is being normal in every sense of the word. No need for anything like a cochlear implant.

The Right to be Deaf

“It is the birthright of all deaf people, and should not be denied to any deaf child.” That sums it all up right there. Who has the right to tell a deaf child that they are insufficient as they are? No one does. Yet, many who try to implant them with a cochlear implant don’t realize this! They try to tell the child that they are not good enough as they are being deaf. What gives them this right?

 This is a reality that we have to face. Deaf children do not understand that they are insufficient as they are. On the contrary, they haven’t learned yet that they are not acceptable. I’ve known other deaf who don’t have an implant and they are not troubled by being deaf. What they are troubled by is the idea that some want to surgically alter them with something that might work. Or it might not! It’s a gamble that I refuse to take.

 With this, Deaf culture is misunderstood by those who wish to implant others. Deaf culture is human beings. Certainly, human beings have a right to be ourselves! We don’t have anything that’s life-threatening with being deaf. I feel very sad for the children because they can’t stand up for themselves. They depend on their parents to make wise decisions. The majority of deaf kids are born to hearing parents! How could these parents understand? They know what they’ve been told or read. If they don’t have experience being deaf how could they understand that it’s not that big a deal?

 Being deaf doesn’t limit someone as much as misunderstanding it does. That’s why before any parents try to implant their deaf child I believe they need to understand that being deaf is only a difference. We can adapt to other things, why not being deaf?

 I would say to parents of a deaf child that yes, some things will be done differently. But, they still are done! Just because the child is different from themselves doesn’t mean that the child has to change or get surgery. Especially, when that surgery may or may not work. If not, then everyone is worse off. And that’s where my heart goes out to them. Parents do not know if it will work or not. They are in a culture that depends on medicine and surgery to fix things, even those things that are only different, that are not a problem!

 Being deaf only means a different lifestyle and a different way of learning things. A deaf person doesn’t need a cochlear implant to survive or to be successful! Success needs hard work. If a child gets implanted then their work will not be in achieving success. Their hard work will go to figuring out how to live and to figure out what’s wrong with them. There’s NOTHING wrong with them! Then why did they get implanted? Their parents had a problem with them being deaf! That problem is not going to go away with the cochlear implant. That problem will only get worse as the child tries to fit in with the other kids in the neighborhood. With so many restrictions on what they can and cannot do it will only cause the child to not be able to do things with the other kids. Then the child will really be disabled. And that’s the sad part. But if the child is not implanted then they can be a child and see that the world is there for them to do whatever they wish with.

The Loss of Compassion

Why can’t people just accept us as we are? Why would they want to change us into what we aren’t? Why would they want to implant deaf? Some even want to implant all deaf! What has this world come to?

 We have not lost the ability to be compassionate! We have not lost the ability to understand ourselves and others. Then, why would someone want to implant deaf babies? Why would someone want to implant deaf kids? Why would someone want to implant deaf teenagers? Why would someone want to implant deaf adults?

My gosh! Have we lost the ability to understand? What on earth could a CI possibly give a deaf person that they can’t get otherwise? A deaf person—of any age—is still two things. They are a human being and they are themselves. How could implanting someone possibly do better?

 Don’t we have the ability to understand anymore? Can we not comprehend that being deaf does not take away anything from a person that’s valuable? My gosh! As a deaf person I have many friends and many people I know. If they have a problem with me being deaf then how is implanting me going to solve that?

 Whatever happened to understanding? Why do we have to put mechanics in place of what’s natural to us? Are we that much afraid of being different? How is being deaf a problem? If someone has a problem with my being deaf then putting a cochlear implant into me is not going to help at all!!

What I need is compassion from other people. Not pressure to be who I’m not. Where is the compassion? 

J.J. Schmidt

Why cannot we Deaf people be ourselves
without CI or HA?

Cochlear Implants can make you become totally deaf after you realize that CI is not working for you at all. It is too late for any person who went through that experience and lost all of their residual hearing. It is not necessary to put Deaf children into this bad situation. Deaf children need better and to be treated better. Deaf children are innocent. A person with CI CAN’T “hear” like a non-deaf person. The reason is I am saying this because there are many failure people with CI in this society that many people never been heard. CI is full of risk that parent is willing to do their Deaf children which it makes me sick. I feel bad for those Deaf children who have no choice to make. The parents are actually destroy their true soul from the beginning which it is a totally WRONG. We have the right to learn what we want to learn not what we’re told to learn.

Hearing aid device is better than nothing because there is unnecessary to have surgeries on Deaf children’s healthy. Give them a choice that they like or not like it anytime without being stuck with CI in their heads. As far as I know there is too risk to remove it by CI doctors who refused to do this removal at all. They know it is not safe to remove but why do Deaf people have to deal with CI devices as they cannot or do not wear it anymore. That’s very outrageous situation.

NO one care but I deeply CARE for these Deaf children as well. Deaf children is so innocent and deserve to accept the positive reinforcement for their being deaf from the beginning. We do not need anyone to put them into a very negative reinforcement that Deaf or Deafness is bad negative word. Deaf people is not allowed to be Deaf if they are happy with which it is a totally wrong. All I’m seeing these people who loves to degrade people whoever disagree, as they believe Deaf children need CI. We have the right to learn what we want to learn not what we’re told to learn. Even though, people have a very negative emotions or feelings, here is the question, Do you think it is appropriate for people’s their negative emotions or feelings who have the right to implant on Deaf children? I think not because it is still carrying on the old behavior pattern cycles from these people’s own negative feelings toward Deafness issue. It need to be stop to have a very unhealthy behaviors and attitudes toward Deaf children from the beginning by these people who have a very low self esteem themselves and very negative view into a word “Deaf or Deafness.”

Deaf children can learn anything but hear. They do not need to hear at all which it is none of anyone’s business since they born with it or becoming deaf as is. Just give them hearing aid if they like it or not before Cochlear Implant device because it is totally unfair. You can assume that they will hear everything as you are expecting them to have a better life in their future because of CI. What a joke! They degrade Deaf children into believing they NEED a CI NO one can cure or fix it.

I hope someday you’ll understand what my meanings is all about. Think twice before you will give more damage Deaf children’s true soul and mind works. People creates more damage toward Deaf children’s self esteem and self acceptance. CI is the full concept of trashy evil medical as is. Medical Code of Ethics says “DO NOT HARM” including deafness. They do not tell you everything in a very honest approachment at first place.

American Sign Language is the one true language as well as English is the one true language not spoken language as well as we can combine into Bi-Bi language. It is very equal communication for both Hearing and Deaf people altogether. It works very well.

Who said we must hear and speak only? We can learn how to speak but it does not have the effective of successful to have our oral method only without sign language or hear the whole comprehension words with any devices. It does not make any sense because we do still miss out a lot in many ways as how can you expect us to hear everything while we learn with/without sign language. There is no sense to me at all. It is all about MONEY and DESTROY on everything what we are capable to do anything but hear. That’s turns me off. It leads more damage toward Deaf children’s true identity of their self esteem and self acceptance. Deaf children need to be accepted as they are and not be told they “need” something. Deaf children feel negative about themselves because they aren’t appreciated for who and what they are. That’s DISRESPECTFUL attitude from CI company as well as they have prejudice, oppression and discrimination that we are still dealing with it every day even nowadays. What a very discouragement behaviors that people have to act this way? It’s discouraging, selfish, controlling, and trying to grab power over Deaf community or Deaf children ‘s non-choice.

We have the right to accept and be happy for who or what we are. We have the right to learn anything without hear because the importance of reading and the concept of language to understand are the answer. It has nothing to do with CI or HA or HEAR or SPEAK itself alone. Where is the respect of cultural diversity for American Sign Language and True identity Deaf children and people who does not want to have CI?

Thank you!

Diane White
Frederick, Maryland

If it’s not broken, don’t try to fix it

Hi, you are so right. Cochlear implants are just glorified hearing aids, but for some one who doesn’t have the capacity to understand sound it’s ridiculous. If it’s not broken, don’t try to fix it. “Deafness is not a disability, but rather a different way of being.” Ahhh, just don’t get me going on oralism.

Any how, nice site.

Mike
(hearing)

Being deaf can be a gift...a great gift

Dear Editor,

I am a 13-year-old girl, who happens to be deaf. I don’t have a CI, and I don’t plan to get one, ever. I don't think that I have any disadvantages being deaf, except for the fact that I cannot hear much such as people talking.

I feel that deaf people don’t need to be able to hear to be happy, and if a child’s parents DO want to put a CI on them, they should wait until s/he is older so that they will be able to decide what they really want to do, and not have to (sometimes) pretend to like it to please their parents.

I have a lot of friends who have a CI or HA, and many of them think being able to hear is better than just being deaf. Some people don’t realize that CIs don’t help you hear much, and you can’t even wear it all the time. It doesn’t make you hearing, and it never will, so I will never see what it can do that improves your lifestyle. My friends say you can communicate better, but with a CI, you can only understand one person at a time because you still have to lipread. Some of them often tell me I am so lucky to have 2 siblings and a mom who are deaf, and now I can truly agree with them. It amazes me to see how badly, how far parents would go to implant their child. Once, someone even begged for money to fix their son’s CI. I used to long to be able to hear just so I would know what it is like to hear people talk, to hear little things. But, now I love being deaf, and will never stop treating my deafness as if it were a gift.

My mom wants me to take speech classes, but I refuse to, because I don’t think I need it. Sometimes my friends try to provoke me into thinking hearing is better than being deaf, and it does make my mind wander for quite a while.

So, parents, please don’t implant your child when they are not old enough to make their own decisions, and other deaf people (mostly the ones oralized and CI/HA lovers). Please accept that you will never fully be hearing and treat your deafness as if it was a gift...Because it is. If you grew up in a family like mine, you would understand why I think it is such a great gift to be deaf.

I really hope that you will put this on the website because I don’t think that there are enough people who prize their deafness.

Tanya S.

If I am alive, I am whole

First of all, let me begin by saying that I'm not exactly an accepted member of the Deaf culture. The reason being that I wasn't born Deaf. I became totally Deaf at the age of ten. Spinal Meningitis renedered me thus. I’ve now been Deaf since 1971 and, in 1984, I received word that my dad was contacting doctors, all over the nation, because HE thought I needed it. He’d not even taken the time to ask ME If I wanted it. (Can you imagine how I felt?) When he finally asked me, I told him, “Flat out, NO!”  From that time, he’s often brought up the subject, hoping I’d change my mind.

I look at this procedure as a farce!  For parents (like my own), whose children were deafened and who still cannot accept having a “less than perfect” child, to harp, rant and rave, and also nag until the (often adult) child relents, is wrong. When I lost my hearing, I spent months, learning to live without hearing. I don’t want to have to spend months (and possibly years) learning to becoming something I no longer am.

For my dad to continue to nag me about this is wrong. He is of the opinion that, unless I am whole (as he sees it) I need something. On the other hand, I look at it as — If I am alive, I am whole. I know Deaf people, all over America, who do not want to hear. For one thing, we’re fearful that the complaints about noise — by people who CAN HEAR, will bother us, when those nuisanses weren’t our to begin with.  It’s a small price to pay to have peace. It’s a much larger price, if we allow our parents, who haven’t taken the time to understand how we feel comfortable, to chide us into receiving something that will be a hinderance in years to come.

Gary F.
A Deaf man, living in middle Georgia


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