Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Disabled, Schmabled--Blogging Against Disablism

Blogging Against Disablism Day, May 1st 2007

Over at Diary of a Goldfish, they're Blogging About Disablism. Simply put, Disablism is right up there with a long line of "isms," which boils down to a simple word: discrimination. I also call it a reality based on fear or discomfort.

As many of you know, the hubby and I are deaf and we're raising three deaf and hard of hearing kids. At first glance, we don't look any different from the hundreds of families in our neighborhood. We're just another family in the typical American tract home, driving three kids in two cars to three different activities on the same day.

Glance at us a second time, and you'll find hearing aids in each of our ears. Our youngest son sports red, white and blue earmolds. We've gone through quite a few color combinations throughout the years, including the blue and white swirls in honor of their school colors. Your eyes might catch us signing or tapping each other on the shoulder.

Invite us to a party and you find that we might be a bit quiet at times. Joining in on group conversations is nearly impossible for us. Our eyes simply can't play ping pong with conversations. As soon as we've lipread one conversation and turn to lipread a response from someone else, the conversation moves yet again. That's why we love people who are willing to understand the logistics of group conversation and slow down until we've made eye contact and take turns speaking. Unfortunately, it's a rare occasion when this happens. That's why we like our activities with a group of deaf and hard of hearing friends-- conversation flows and the communication barriers fall to the wayside. I get riled up when people tell me that we need to be "in the real world with hearing people." Believe me, we're in the real world everyday. I just like my world accessible.

We have a couple of people in our lives that have that "deer in the headlights" look whenever they're around us. They're quite uncomfortable making conversation and they offer a few sentences and then dart away. There's no real deep meaningful dialogue because they're so afraid of having to repeat themselves and the tension runs too high. Sometimes we joke about slipping a few anti-anxiety pills in their coffee.

Making a phone call to us can be a bit tricky but it is improving with technology all the time. We now have a regular number that people can call without us having to explain what a relay service is. In years past, we would have to give out an 800 number and our home phone number and people would often give up before attempting to call us. We still have kinks to work out with people who hang up when they get an operator instead of us directly.

The invention that I personally love right now is the videophone. I use a wireless phone to talk to people directly and I have an interpreter on a screen in front of me who signs everything that is being said. Most of the time, conversation flows pretty easily with this method.

Around the internet, I identify myself as "Deaf Mom." It's me, it's who I am, it's a part of me 24/7. Being deaf is so much a part of me that if you can't see beyond the lack of hearing stuff, then you've got a disability of your own.


Imperfect Christian said...

I often feel it is those of us WITHOUT a diagnosed disability that are the most disabled of us all!

groovyoldlady said...

Just more proof that ignorance is a disability!

Until I knew you I was almost completely ignorant of the deaf community. I was one of the Oh-my-gosh-I-have-an-appointment-and-have-to-go sorts becaue I was ill at ease.

Knowing you has done so much to change that.

Thanks for being you!

Karen said...

Ok Groovy, are you ready to take up sign language? GRIN

Shiloh said...

Hi! This is my 1st BADD and so I'm visiting various blogs to see what others wrote. I liked your title, and I thank you for giving me a glimpse into your world. It was very interesting. I would like to bookmark your site, so you may see more of me. Oh, just as a topic of interest, maybe, a resolution was just passed in our state that allows schools and colleges to offer Sign Language as foreign language credit.

Dawn Colclasure said...

Bravo! Very well written, Karen. And I definitely agree with you. We really DO live in the "real world" every day. Sadly, some people think that because we're deaf, we miss out. But we don't! We have coping techniques and survival strategies. More people just need to understand!

Karen said...

Heading over to visit yours!

I think it's a great idea to have ASL as a foreign language in the schools and colleges considering it's the third most used language in the U.S. :)

Blue / Kay Olson said...

I did not know there was the technology to translate a speaking voice on a phone into sign. Did I get that right? That's very cool. Since getting my trach a year ago and speaking again just for the past six months, I use text messaging as or more often than speaking on the phone. I found my phone of choice by checking out which phones deaf folks prefer for the heavy texting. The increased access benefits us all, we just never know when those benefits are going to kick in.

Michelle said...

thank you for sharing a piece of yourself, and your family, and telling it like it is!

seahorse said...

Yes, ignorance is a disibility. I like that, it's so true.

Mom to Toes said...

I really enjoy your blog!

May I add a link to your blog from mine?


Jana B said...

"Sometimes we joke about slipping a few anti-anxiety pills in their coffee. "

We joke about doing that to my boss sometimes too! *giggle*

It's interesting to read your blog, and get a good look inside of a Deaf life... I never thought of how conversations in a group work (except that my voice is small, and people always interupt me, which makes me grumpy... but that that's beside the point)... hmm.

Karen said...

Ha,ha, I hope your boss doesn't read this! :)