Monday, September 20, 2010

Does It Have To Be Either/Or?

If there is one thing that confuses me about Deaf Culture, it is the seemingly insurmountable wall between ASL Deaf and oral deaf. I know absolutely that there are people out there who happily live in both spaces. They sign, they talk, they live their lives. But there also seems to be this attitude that proclaims "If you were oral and are part of the ASL Deaf Culture, then being oral deaf must have failed for you." People seem to question the success of implants if they see a Deaf person with a CI who is signing and an active member of the Deaf Community. Is there no room for someone who wants a Deaf Identity, who also enjoys the use of their implant?

My daughter is developing her Deaf Identity. She knows she is deaf, and would not change that. She likes being around other D/deaf people. She doesn't care if they are CI recipients, have hearing aids, or if they are ASL Deaf. She feels comfortable being around other D/deaf people. I would not change that for anything. I think it is important for her to have a good self image, and feel good about who she is. But she also loves her implants. She used to cry if we tried to take them off for naps or at bed time. She has an extensive CD collection, and loves music. She talks naturally and easily to her hearing friends. She even talks in her sleep.

I would not be surprised if she chooses to go to Gally for college. If her dream is to become an interpreter, that would be the best choice for her. I see in her, the ability to accept all types of deafness in other people, without judgement or prejudice. But I cannot say the same thing in return. If you see a deaf person with a CI using ASL, do you think "Their choice, their life, fine with me." or do you think "The CI must not work if they have to sign."

Some Deaf have said that they would welcome CI deaf into the Deaf Community if they respect and use ASL, even if they continue to use their implants. But the moment they show up, the response seems to be, "See, they need ASL. The implant must not work because here they are." I see it differently. I see that the Deaf Community is doing something right if CI deaf feel comfortable enough to want to participate in the Deaf Community even if they can easily speak and hear with their implants. What do you think? Please keep the comments respectful, or I will use my delete option. This is a moderated site.