So I have this friend on Facebook who is deaf. I met him when I was 16, and he was dating Debbie, my best friend in high school. I’m not sure how they met…he was attending the North Carolina School for the Deaf. Debbie, being Debbie, became adept at American Sign Language. I once went on a double date with Boyd and Debbie, and one of his friends from school, and I was not especially impressed. I did make a feeble attempt at learning ASL, and mastered the alphabet, but I never learned any of the shortcuts for words.
Boyd was the first deaf person I ever met. He was great…animated, vivacious, smart. (Debbie would have to translate.) Both of them moved on but remained friends forever. She still lives in North Carolina; he lives in California.
Now fast forward. While living in New Orleans, one of my frends began dating a deaf person, who was a militant deaf person. Excuse me? Could you repeat that? Deaf and militant? It turns out that this is the issue: the cochlear implant . Whether or not it works well–and the jury is still out on that–is not the issue. It’s that proponents of the implant are implying there is something wrong with people who are deaf. There is a contingent of deaf people who say that is totally wrong. Being deaf is just a different way of being. Sign language is just another language.
So it seems there is a bill before the California Legislature, AB 2072, which as far as I can tell mandates that doctors give the parents of deaf people all their options, which includes cochlear implants. And deaf people are fighting it.
I can appreciate not wanting to be treated like a second-class citizen because you’re deaf. What I cannot appreciate is your inability to want the best that technology has to offer for the newly deaf, including babies. And not even wanting people to be informed about it. (They say it’s just a giveaway to the cochlear implant manufacturers.)
Not being able to hear is a handicap. It is a disability by any other name. When you can’t hear the freight train bearing down on you…or the wooly mammoth…that is a disadvantage. When you want others to share your disadvantage…that is delusional.