Level: Deaf Studies

Dysconscious Audism or Internalized Audism

In her dissertation, Dr. Genie Gertz defines dysconscious audism as "a form of audism that tacitly accepts dominant hearing norms and privileges. It is not the absence of consciousness but an impaired consciousness or distorted way of thinking about Deaf consciousness."

In other words, an unnamed blogger basically defined dysconscious audism as "audism (a belief and attitude that to be deaf is to be inferior to hearing people) perpetrated by members of the Deaf community because they have internalized attitudes that the hearing way is superior due to the systemic and pervasive oppression all around us."

Examples in the Wild

Dysconscious audism is what deaf people, colonized by hearing society, have internalized audist attitude. Here are some illustrations.

Scenario: Between a hearing interpreter and a Deaf bilingual teacher, a deaf student chooses to check with the hearing one if this ASL sign is the right usage or what it means. Deaf people (many are well-educated, bilingual) native to ASL are the best people to ask.

Scenario: Some deaf people with "success" cochlear implants think cochlear implants are fine (as long as they are 'successful' and also use sign language), while many Deaf people with CI, who were forbidden from language acquisition by eye, suffer language deprivation and delay in early language development.

Don Grushkin in the video above highlights common things that deaf children may learn and internalize audism from their hearing parents and hearing society in general. He is aware of these things and resists them.

Any more examples?

Breaking dysconscious audism

Deaf children feel they are inadequate or not as capable of hearing peers until their limiting beliefs are broken. There are some moments when deaf people realize their internalized audism and break them. Here are a few examples.

Scenario: A talented Deaf swimmer climbed up the levels quickly and beat many hearing teammates and competitors all the way up to the Olympic Trials. She realized, "Oh, hearing people are no better."

Scenario: Two ASL-speaking bilingual Deaf teenagers, who attended a Deaf school, interacted with non-signing hearing teenagers via writing and fingerspelling in person few times and observed that their hearing counterparts made several common misspellings (based on sounds). They were surprised.

Scenario: On the first day of high school, a hearing fluent-ASL English teacher at a Deaf school toughly told her deaf pupils that she would not patronize them and believe in her deaf students' capability as equal as hearing students'. At the end of the school year, the students greatly respected the teacher.

Scenario: Deaf teachers at a deaf school have their ASL meme, telling their deaf students "CANNOT+++? NO, CANNOT-UNDO+++' (video soon).

Further readings

For more information on dysconscious audism, Dr. Gertz's article can be found in the book Open Your Eyes.

Related posts

Microaggression can be also another form that causes some dysconscious audism in some deaf people.

As much deaf people are misunderstood, misjudged, and prejudiced, sign language is also not well understood. Here are some myths and facts about sign language.

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