Continuing along the same theme as my Crab Theory post. I'll be sharing my feelings on an old phenomenon that happens in the Deaf community plus one recent one that has popped up.
What is Deaf Identity?
I know the Deaf Identity involves more than just the three I showed, but it is the simple explanation. So, let's take a quick look:
American Sign Language is our shared language in the United States and in some parts of the world.
It is NOT "English on the hands" or "gesturing" as the misconception goes.
It is its own valid language with grammar, syntax and all the linguistic rules. Deaf people use ASL not just to communicate but also to tell stories, poetry, jokes, visual vernacular, and SO much more. In short, we cherish our ASL.
Culture is "defined as patterns, traits, products, attitudes, and intellectual / artistic activity associated with a population".
Some Deaf Culture aspects are:
Deaf pride is calling ourselves Deaf - Capital D, as opposed to deaf - Little D.
We do not see ourselves as "broken", "disabled", or "handicapped".
As Dr. Bill Vicars of LifePrint puts it "So we renounce the label of disability and shun patronizing attempts to categorize us as having a "challenge." Not because we don't have a challenge, (we do), but rather because it is psychologically much more comfortable to avoid thinking about it and focus on other things. We go about our lives engaged in the process of "living" and are then confronted by certain Hearing people feel the inexplicable, irrational need to "help" us come to terms with and/or "realize" or "admit" that we have a "problem.""
Now, let's go to the phenomenons happening:
"Not Deaf Enough"
This has been happening for generations, where one feels "too deaf for the hearing world, not deaf enough for the Deaf world". Where one may have been mainstreamed, grew up orally (speaking not signing), late-deafened, deaf but don't sign, have a cochlear implant or whatever reason the Deaf "elitists" feel. (My word choice). These "outsiders" are then rejected, black-listed, or even attacked.
My personal opinion? It's bullshit! Everyone with a strong hearing loss struggle to communicate and participate in the outside "hearing" world. We face the same rejection, oppression and patronizing attitudes from ignorant people. We all face been left out and isolation in a busy crowd at one time or another.
New Labeling - DDBDDHH
Recently there's a "trend" that's going around stating that the word "Deaf" is not inclusive enough and "we" should be calling ourselves DDBDDHH. Which stands for Deaf, DeafBlind, Deaf Disabled, Hard of Hearing. Here's a captioned video explaining more:
First of all, that's a lot to memorize and fingerspell (and say). Look, I call myself DeafBlind because it's my identity as well as being a lot easier than saying "Deaf and legally blind", or to be more PC "I have a combined hearing loss and am visually challenged". Sheesh! Now you want me to say "I am DDBDDHH and have vision loss"? No. Just No.
Think the National Association of the Deaf (NAD) will now have to spend more on bigger business cards and letterheads to change it to National Association of the Deaf, DeafBlind, Deaf Disabled, and Hard of Hearing.
Let's stick with Deaf.
Cherish Who YOU Are!
No matter where you are in your Deaf identity search - still "d"eaf, learning ASL, have a hearing aid or a C.I., or already deeply involved in the Deaf community - whatever, be PROUD of who you are!
Never apologize for who you are as a Deaf person and never apologize for where you are in life. You're responsible for yourself (and your family).
Ignore the naysayers and other crabs (remember crab theory?) and keep learning, keep evolving and stay happy and productive.