Deaf studies

Institutional Audism

Institutional oppression or systemic oppression (racism/audism/etc.) is defined as the systematic oppression of particular identity groups (race, gender, class, disability, etc.) through established laws, customs or practices that create inequalities in order to benefit the privileged groups in power.

Institutional or Systemic Audism

Institutional audism is a systemic oppression of the deaf society through phonocentrism, hearing power structure, financial profits, and such.

American psychologist Dr. Harlan Lane (1936-2019) expanded in 1992 by including "the corporate institutions for dealing with deaf people, dealing with them by making statements about them, authorizing views of them, describing them, teaching about them, governing where they go to school and, in some cases where they live, in short audism is the hearing way of dominating, reconstructing and exercising authority over the deaf community."

Examples in the Wild

Kelby Brick, American Deaf lawyer and advocate, describes a number of examples in his post on his Facebook page. A few picks of those scenarios illustrate examples of the systemic audism:

"A hearing non-signer with no background on civil rights of Deaf people being hired to teach Deaf people how to advocate for civil rights policy."

"An audiologist selling hearing aids who has opposed the idea of encouraging families of Deaf children to learn sign language complains that the government does not pay enough for hearing aids asks me for help in changing government policy so that more hearing aids can be sold."

"An institution facing severe budgetary challenges resulting in programming cuts in serving Deaf people hires hearing non-signing folks (instead of better qualified Deaf people) and then spend hundreds of thousands on interpreting costs so that those hearing non-singers can communicate with Deaf folks."

"A non profit organization that was established to serving Deaf and hard of hearing people and has a staff of well over 50 people and an annual budget of between $5-15m (I’m trying to be vague here) has exactly zero Deaf full time staff and the front desk staff know no sign language."

"And those are just the tip of the iceberg of what I encountered within the past 24 hours. Imagine if I had to make a list of the different things I encountered on a weekly basis, never mind a monthly or yearly basis!"

"Yet we wonder why Deaf people are massively under or unemployed? This is why we must continue to push for a stronger #DeafEcosystem." -- Kelby Brick.

Systempic Oppression and Capitalism

Financial domination over a minority group is one thing. Another thing is the instiutional domination of language, modality, and hearing.

A number of hearing services and agencies sets policies against the use of signing in the name of speech. Parents may be asked to sign an agreement that they wouldn't let their deaf children use sign language when their children receive cochlear implants in the process.

The process from newborn hearing screening to cochlear implant surgery is another form of systemic oppression.

And so on and on. It's very tiring to deal with it.

Related posts

What is audism?

New to sign language? "Where do I start?" or "How do I start learning sign language?" This ASL Rookie guide lists some selected links to the tutorials for ASL beginners to get started and keep rolling. It may be a useful review for intermediate-level learners and ASL students as well.

Some tutorial pages are a mix of free and premium versions. Access to premium content and links below are available in the PatronPlus subscription. More links/posts will be added from time to time.

Expressing needs and wants

  1. Making commands or requests

Talking about activities

  1. Frequency of time: how often?

Are you able to carry everyday conversations in ASL? Are you a student in the intermediate levels and beyond, who wishes to boost up your signing skills? You've come to the selected tutorial series. (Some premium content are available to PatronPlus membership.)

Stories, poems, performance arts, etc. in sign language.

This documentation project follows a child's language acquisition, literacy development, and phonological acquisition in sign language, specifically ASL, from newborn to age five in a natural native-ASL environment and visual culture.