Paternalism

Paternalism is a "behavior, by a person, organization or state, which limits some person or group's liberty or autonomy for their own good." -- Wikipedia

Deaf people generally tend to utterly reject paternalism. It harms more than good.

Examples out in the Wild

These are some examples of paternalistic behaviors found out in the wild in literature and in interactions.

Helping deaf people

"The best part about learning sign language is that you are now able to help someone with hearing loss. You make their life easier. That means so much."

"Get lost!" might be a typical reaction from ASL speakers. They are doing pretty much fine without help. What they appreciate from hearing individuals is allyship.

They do appreciate hearing people learning ASL to be part of their lives and vice versa. They are pretty delightful when hearing people speak some ASL with them. When a hearing server speaks ASL with customers, they feel at home in this world, in the same way a travelling foreigner speaks the native speaker's language in a foreign country.

They don't need or expect your help unless they ask you. Or, you can ask them or offer them (the right way) if they would like. Not because they are deaf, but because a human helps another human doing the things only when needed or asked.

Making decisions

Don't make decisions for them; don't decide what is the best for them. Don't make policies or laws without them involved.

A ASL-speaker, who is an experienced solo world traveler and independent young Deaf woman, stood in front of the kiosk to purchase a train ticket in a Japanese town. As she was getting familiar with the touchscreen of the kiosk, her hearing friend, who just made friend with her, intervened and clicked around on the screen. The ASL speaker became boiled about how she was treated. She preferred to pay by credit card instead of cash, which would affect her travel expense strategy. She then brought up the issue with the new friend and explained about the inappropriate behavior. The hearing friend apologized.

Interpreting for ASL speaker

Many Deaf people find it offensive and oppressive when a hearing person or sometimes hard-of-hearing person go ahead interpreting for them without offering or asking. Not unusually, they prefer to communicate directly in writing, depending on the situations. If they'd like to use interpreting, they may invite to faciliate communication.

Many Deaf parents find it offensive when other hearing persons turn to their hearing children (codas) and speak to pass the information to the Deaf or to interpret. They prefer that the hearing people communicate with them directly either in writing or other means.

To be better allyship, ask a deaf person first if they need anything. Communicate with them directly instead relying on a third-party bilingual youngster or friend. Follow a Deaf person's preference or style of communication.

Related posts

Tokenism, Allyship.