Tuesday, 11 September 2018

The best thing about being deaf

John Cradden at Deaf Village Ireland in Cabra, Dublin. Photograph: Cyril Byrne
You tend to lose contact with reality and wear your underpants outside your clothes by the look of it.  All of a sudden the deaf become disabled as well (You have to fess up if you want to write to a disability magazine or claim a disability benefit)... .  

Any 'social capital' has to be entirely relative surely?  Is this area becoming some sort of cult?  The reality, is that being unable to hear your own child, isn't really positive at all, cannot easily be shrugged off or joked about.  We are all for the positive spin, but not at the expense of truth.  True, the deaf get deafer when it's their round!  Being deaf isn't a positive for most, it's a life-long curse for many, including deaf who develop serious mental health issues, that don't get addressed by making jokes about it, this plays into the cultist deaf area of negativity.  For every happy signer there are a 100 far from happy other deaf.  I'd like to see this man now put the reverse side of the coin.

What are the good things about being deaf? Let me count the ways (Elizabeth Barrett Browning ...): 

I can pretend not to hear when someone tries to reminds me it’s my round; I can easily tune out of the cacophony generated in my home by my young children; and – best of all – I always get a good, uninterrupted night’s sleep.

I’m sure other writers in the Platform series will jokingly point to the incidental benefits of their own disabilities. But I say “jokingly” because most these so-called positives can’t be taken seriously; they serve merely to take the edge off things, or add humour to our stories, rather than balance out the many negatives of trying to navigate a world built almost exclusively for the able-bodied.

I could also point to a benefit of a different kind, which is knowing Irish sign language (ISL) and being a member of the strong-knit Irish deaf community. The beauty of this is that all the positives that accrue from knowing ISL and being part of the deaf community is not confined to deaf people.

To borrow a term coined by prominent Irish deaf academic Dr John Bosco Conama, ISL has valuable “social capital”. 

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