Cures for deafness: being Deaf

Deaf as an experimental guinea pig
Image source: Internet

In seeking a "cure" for deaf(ness), hearing people have attempted some different approaches such as:

- a deaf child in the bi-plane flying high in the sky in hope to pop up an part of the ear through air pressure (20th century);
- an electronic shock therapy (20th century);
- prayers and religious rituals;
- cut inside ears and pour fluids in them.
- radiation therapy which caused cancer in some deaf persons (20th century).
- hearing aids (from 20th century)
- cochlear implants (from late 20th century)
- speech therapy (hundreds+ of years)

To hearing people's desire, those are a "cure". To us, it's a torture and abuse.

Language in visual-spatial modality

We deaf people have been positive with who we are -- being Deaf. The thing we've always cared is our (signed) language which is our natural access to the world, including bilingualism or multilingualism, education and literacy, and employability.

Signing, even if it's foreign to hearing people, is our cure, not speech.

Speech is not a language. Speech is a modality on the same level as signing. English is a language. ASL is a language. The brain, I know I say it many times, recognizes both languages as equal, regardless of the modality.

Even many Deaf people, who never and cannot speak nor hear, have a high levels of literacy and education (Bachelors, Masters, and PhDs). They are bilingual ("spoken" ASL and written English). Just because of language, not speech (modality).

Imagine, if their (signed) language were taken away and they are left with poor speech skills, they may be lost. Then, this would reinforce the hearing belief in vicious cycle that deaf people are illiterate and uneducated -- not because they are deaf but because their language and free will were taken away in hearing domination.

Since long, we know that our (signed) language (thus bilingualism and bimodalism) is our cure, regardless of various speech skills. Language is a human right for all deaf people, regardless of their speech skills. English is not a human right. Nor speech. Natural language is.

The Pill

Scenario: In deaf high school, my Deaf peers asked one another, "If there were a pill cure that would make you hearing, would you take it?" I replied, "No! And, you?" She replied, "No!" Others? No!

Don't take us wrong. We did take a moment of careful contemplation. On the surface, it would be tempting if it were magical. On the other hand, we refuse on the basis of resistance against domination, power, control, and oppression.

If one were asking the same pill question for Black people, First Nations people, LGBTQ+ people, and so on, it would be unthinkable if they might want to take the pill. It would be another form of eugenics that is unacceptable.

Deaf people, like other oppressed minorities, have been resisting oppression for a long time. We fight for our human rights, for our (sign) language, and for equality and freedom. Cochlear implants, hearing aids, and speech therapy are not a cure but many years of therapy.

"Discrimination against the deaf is termed 'audism.' When I ask members of the advocacy group Audism Free America how they feel about a 'cure' for deafness, they equate it to a cure for being black or female or gay. I counter that the analogy might be a stretch, since deafness is the absence of a key sense. Karen Christie, one of the group's founders, rejects the notion. 'People aren't absent of whiteness,' she writes to me over Skype. 'I am a woman but I am not absent of a penis.' -- Source


It's not really about a cure. It's a form of eugenics. There has been a history of sterilization, genocide during the Nazi war, and abortion.

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The desire for a cure formed in the lineage of eugenics for deafness.

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