Let's see: Seek Geo posted a great discussion of a topic for this week. So here, view it first:
I got a life story to share with you. When I was born, my family had no idea I was deaf until I was just 5 years old and got my hearing tested. I never knew almost anything. Just learned on my own and in my own world. It was a fight to push a hearing aid into my right ear. I almost never liked it. Yes I still consider it a child abuse upon what my parents have done.
Deaf Schools rejected me because of my ability to hear and lipread. I fell through the educational cracks. In a disabled schools, I went through all their materials like a hungry lion and depleting out their work schedules. Too easy for me.
I was introduced as a "test person" for the new mainstream program for the deaf in a hearing school district. One thing that happened the most is that I battled depression often. I almost had no close friends, no one to practice sign language that I was forced to learn on. Thankfully, one very special girl did rescue me in my high school life.
I made it through high school despite my hearing classmates helped one of their own to get through the mainstream program for the deaf. I keep wondering after 30 years if I'll ever be recognized for being the first deaf person through this? Prolly not.
My parents wanted me to go to a hearing college so that I'd be taught as a hearing person should be.
You know what? I have lived 14 years as a forced hearing person with a hearing aid since age 5. I finally felt enough was enough. Rebellion happen. Shit happens. I learned one thing central in my life:
I AM DEAF!!
Get used to it people! With out my hearing aid, I'm a deaf person. GET A GRIP! My parents were upset. My sisters were half and half of supporting my decision to learn to live like a deaf person.
The only thing that really hurt me in my life is the cultural shock at the cross over from the hearing society to the deaf society. I had to learn the good things and the bad things of the deaf culture world. When I look at the hearing friends I had back in high school, they never stuck around in my life. They just upped and left.
Nobody didn't teach me sign language. I had to learn it myself. I tried to grasp the techniques of learning ASL. I can't do ASL conversationally. But I can do it through music!
I look at all the deaf friends I've had in my life. I've meet many from my NTID days, the Deaf church days, and the Gallaudet days. Some of them have become my life long friends. I've had some good deaf friends that became my roommates.
I've learned the positives and the negatives of the deaf community. I've seen a deaf pastor use and abuse his deaf ministry. I've seen some 3 different deaf people rob me and my roommates. I've seen this deaf pastor plead that these 3 deaf people not to be petitioned into the court of law. But you know, God will judge this pastor and these 3 deaf men who he placed in my home against my will.
I have seen some wonderful deaf clubs out there. There's a lot of wonderful deaf organizations. Excellent deaf schools like Rochester School for the Deaf (Rochester, NY) and Model Secondary School for the Deaf (MSSD, Washington, DC).
I have had some wonderful employers that have employed me in their companies and I have done every thing that they asked me to do. We team worked. Deafness was never an issue. I did my job as the best I could.
Yes, I've had some bad jobs in my life as well.
In the last 4 years of job searching, I've come across employers who asked one question. "Can you hear on the phone? Can you speak to a client without an interpreter?" etc. etc. etc. Believe it or not, I could round up more than 100 employers that I've interviewed with and make a massive ada lawsuit against them all if I wanted to. They're looking for able bodied people to hear and do the job without accommodations.
I find this not only upsetting, but disobeying President Obama's order that employers should be employing the handicapped (including the deaf) and the minority workers. Employers don't want to have to deal with ADA stuff. They just don't realize how easy it is.
To hide and fool employers of my deafness is NOT fun until I get into the interview with them. Then they're trapped. But they should see of what I can do for them, not because I'm deaf.
When people talk to me, I talk to them with my own voice like a hearing person. They enjoy my conversations until I mention I'm deaf. Just like Geo, I get the "OMGs, the sorry yer deaf stuff, sympathies". I look at them and say this: Be thankful you are hearing. Without you, where would we, the deaf, be?
Let me recognize two great and wonderful hearing persons that have made an impact on the deaf community's life.
Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet. The very man who established The Columbia School for Deaf as a college which became, Gallaudet College, and later renamed into Gallaudet University.
Dr. William Castle. Without him, The National Technical Institute for the Deaf (NTID) would not have a director that lead this wonderful institution, on the campus of the Rochester Institute of Technology, through the many first years of NTID's life as a technical college for the deaf. It is a shame that the Heather Whitestone incident prevents NTID from honoring Dr. Castle fully. I think it's time that NTID puts the Heather Whitestone aside and fully recognize Dr. William Castle fully for his works. Without him, where would NTID be?
In the latter years of my life, I have not hated my life of being deaf. I say it's a blessing at times. It's being able to sleep without sound. Some times it gets scary when I don't have my hearing on whatever I walk or I drive. I learn to live with it. Some times it facing the joy of being deaf too.
Some hearing people want of what I have, being deaf. I tell them, go to war, go to a rock festival often as you can. Go destroy your precious hearing as much as you want. Even if you gain being deaf, you'll find the challenges to live every day as a deaf person. Don't wish for it. Because if you do, it could happen to you.
I have meet many different people in my life too. Deaf people, Blind people, Deaf-Blind people (they are amazing!), mentally challenged people, and multi-handicapped people. All of them are amazing! They live some wonderful lives despite being often challenged and put down by hearing and able bodied people.
Should all of us deaf and handicapped people feel sorry and thank for sympathy from the hearing people? No. We need to educate them. Ignorance is a dangerous thing. A person who's ignorant is less informed.
So one more.. I'll say it again for the benefit of my readers out there:
Don't give me any sympathy.
Help me when I ask for help.
Respect me when I decline your help because you ask me.
Team work with me and things get done.
Challenge me and I'll rise to meet the challenge.
As said by I. King Jordan: " The deaf can do every thing but hear".
Respect me, live with me, work with me.
That's all I ask.
P.S. one last thing: To Governor Andrew Cuomo:
Don't think of cutting those deaf schools from the Support of New York State! New York State has been a benefit and a blessing to lives of all deaf and handicapped people. If you hurt the deaf and handicapped people, you will get politically hurt back as well. Your 2nd term is already gone at this point! You are just one term Governor. Think Seriously! Support the deaf and handicapped schools of New York State!