The Right to be…. Deaf – Part IV
This is a series examining the questions of whether or not we have the right to be Deaf
Note: i play with pronouns and gender a bit here so that u keep a completely open mind on who is what etc but if its too confusing – holler. i can stick with one thing through out.
The Right to be… Deaf – Part IV
i.e. Not without a Fight
Last time we visited baby Pat, her/his parents had just learned that their insurance would not cover high end digital hearing aids but they would cover bilateral implants.
Enters the in-laws (dant dant dant dant!) “Oh, you must get baby Pat implanted. If you don’t that is child abuse”
(Note: don’t believe that some parents say this to their own adult Deaf children? – just check out the documentary “Sound and Fury”)
Now baby Pat’s parents start arguing with each other. DANG. Again they are struck by how when they should be overjoyed at having a healthy child (and Pat is healthy) they are instead constantly being whacked over the head with audism and not only are they starting to wonder what the health “care” profession and their own parents have thought of them as Deaf human beings on this planet all along, they are now starting to think that they need to do this “thing” in order to give Pat some fighting chance against audism.
Cuz they know better than anyone at the operating table that it’s a Hearing world out there after all. And they really don’t like the prospect of baby Pat spending his/her life being judged by the curve of their audiogram.
Soooo do do? Some days dad/mom says “yes we should” while hoping the other partner will still be dragging his/her feet. Some days mom/dad will say “yes we probably should” while secretly hoping that the in-laws will move out of country but even the great old puddle called the Pacific or Atlantic Ocean don’t mean nothing in the digital age and far cant be far enough when every morning there is a FULL PAGE ad for some type of hearing de-vice in the morning newspaper.
Sooooo do do? After many arguments and tears and talking to a few friends who have cochlear implants and visiting with other babies that have cochlear implants (yes, babies because even though the FDA has approved CI for 12 month and up – some doctors are performing bilateral implants as young as 6 mo and guess how old baby Pat is right now? 6 mo – tick tock goes the digital clock they say)
Well after all these visits they do see that some folks can talk and some folks can hear some things with CIs but they are also getting some other information about the “WORK” involved, about the “glitches,” about the recalls, about the re-implanting, about the….. lieablilities
And they are also seeing that baby Pat is doing some mighty fine hand babbling – s/he is really cranking out some wee gestures and approximations. She is also understanding mommy / daddy pretty dang well.
Yes it sucks when grandma and grandpa hold baby Pat and splatter their tears all over her/him while they have flashbacks about when they were new parents and had a “hearing impaired” thing in their arms. Yes – it does look like they are trying to baptize baby Pat in the gospel of audism but wow wouldn’t it be cool if grandma and grandpa actually LEARNED TO SIGN for baby Pat’s sake. I mean wouldn’t that just be radical. And wouldn’t that just possibly mean that maybe years from now when grandma and grandpa are coming to the end of their time on this planet, they will be able to lift up their hands and fingerspell or sign ILY instead of trying to speak it cuz they are out of breath or because they are on a breathing machine or because its too hard to lipread when u have tears in ur eyes cuz ur mom and dad are going home to the maker – cuz of all the times in our lives this should be the one moment of equality of condition where we do not have to “work for our words” moment. Wouldn’t it be cool for them too to have this option of not only being able to have an unconditional bond with their Deaf grand child – they could have one with their own Deaf adult child and her/his Deaf partner. WOW
(NOTE: don’t believe me that some folks go to the grave not being able to communicate with their own adult Deaf children? See Jax in the documentary Audism Unveiled)
So we, the Deaf parents, just say NO to cochlear implants for now. We know the offer for them will come around again and again and again. But for today we say “not the way we wanna go” Of course we don’t tell our folks that – we at first say we want to wait until baby Pat can decide for herself/himself cuz its Pat’s body but our parents (Pat’s granny and granpappy) hit us with the “S/he wont be able to learn to hear and speak as easily when they are older.” To which you reply “but mom I never had a cochlear implant and I can speak.” To which the patriarch says “that is only because your mother had to work so hard with you and the speech language pathologist worked so hard with you….”
“And what about me?”
To which both the grandparents look at each other puzzled and then back at their Deaf adult child and say, “huh?” while the Deaf couple look at their happy Deafbaby and shake their heads at the gall of their own parents.
“What about the WORK I HAD TO DO???? To learn to talk?” shouts the Deaf adult child.
“Oh, we know you worked hard too son/daughter. Now, there there and just calm down. This isn’t about you – this is about baby Pat.”
To which Deaf mom now begins her own baptism of baby Pat – yep she is crying at seeing her inlaws so surely reject their own Deaf son and in turn his Deaf offspring and in turn her (Deaf wife/mother/daughterinlaw).
deaf = death is hanging in the air and Deaf mom no like.
So she weeps and the one tear falls slowly – she sees it in close-up in ASL – in the tear drop she sees reflected all the Deaf ancestors that came before her and it lands near baby Pat’s eye and s/he blinks, reaches out to touch the wetness and Deaf mom smiles.
This baby is cute. This baby is beautiful. This baby is Deaf and dandy! S/he has been anointed with Deaf mom’s genes, blood, sweat, kisses, and now A teardrop! This is her/his naming ceremony – her “welcome to the world” –
his/her “You are a People of the Eye/Hand!” moment
It’s good to be D E A F – shouts the Deaf mom in her soul’s core & you are loved as is!
Deaf mom signs small like as in a whisper to Deaf dad – “just tell them ‘we will see-see about the CI’ so they will leave us alone.” (She has heard stories where inlaws try to get the Deaf baby taken away from their Deaf parents because they think their own adult Deaf children cant raise their offsprings properly or think they should have CI or be oral/aural ONLY or….).
And Deaf mom and Deaf dad suddenly become VERY busy and unavailable for the inlaws each time the call for a visit to baby Pat and they don’t even give a second look at the ABC article that grandma sent with this sentence highlighted in blue (for sad) “Unfortunately, people who have hearing aides only, really can only get to a fourth grade reading level,” said speech language pathologist ________. “You can’t get very far in school with that reading level. Research has shown people with implants can go in regular classes, graduate from high school, go to college. So, the impact on education is humongous.”
(Don’t believe me that speech language pathologists say this kinda b.s. even in 2010 – go to http://www.abcactionnews.com/dpp/news/health/Born-deaf,-a-Pinellas-County-girl-starts-school-and-hears-the-school-bell)
We, the Deaf parents, are just too incredibly busy – what with teaching baby Pat all the sign language and peek a boo and I love you etc etc and building the fort and the mountain.
Stay tuned for another installment of “The Right to be …..Deaf”
To Summarize Part IV – Do we have the right to be Deaf????
Answer: – not without a fight
Here is a little vlog about respecting folks right to BE Deaf. It is a bit religious but substitute out G-d for Nature if u so desire. Overall, it is good and grand and true.
I Don’t Need Your Cure by Megg Rose
Performed by Megg & Yamila Rose