Social Justice for Deaf Culture

Tuesday, December 23rd, 2014

         An important social justice issue that continues to be ignored by members of society is the need for the recognition and appreciation of deaf people and the deaf culture. Many people in society feel that deaf people are members of society with a medical problem or a disability, but that should not let the members of society be judgmental towards deaf people. I can personally relate to this particular issue because I am a deaf individual. There is a clear distinction between being deaf and hearing impaired. Society fails to recognize the distinction between the two because everyone assumes that they are the defined the same. Both deaf men and women are discriminated against in society because of their deafness and the limitations that are an effect of being deaf.

            My personal story in regards to my deafness is that my diagnosis of being deaf was discovered at the age of 2 years old. My parents did everything in their power to provide me with the resources to be successful in life. When the discovery of my deafness was made apparent to my family, they were told to put me in a deaf institution for the rest of my life because I will never be able to experience and have a “normal” life with the hearing members of society. People automatically assume the worst for people who are not “normal” or similar to other members of society. This clear social justice problem applies to both men and women that are deaf because of the social stigma placed upon them. Why do people fear those that are different? Why does society emphasize and promote the differentiation of both men and women that are deaf?  Are deaf people stupid? Are deaf people incapable of being successful? How do we deal with deaf people? Are deaf people weird because they act different? Some people in society make negative assumptions, rather than actually consider previously conducted research and analyses.

            All of these important questions need to be considered because they signify the importance of the ignorance of the issue. Being a deaf individual is not the end of the world. I am 22 years old, and I am a fifth year senior at a prestigious college. When members of society tell me I cannot and will not be able to do something, it makes me hungrier more than ever to prove them wrong. I am a living example and proof of a deviant member of society regarding the social issue of justice for the deaf community in society. I will continue to prove society wrong. Society placed this negative stigma on not only just me alone, but the entire deaf community as well. Justice has not been served to the deaf community because they continue to be discriminated against regardless of the very few individuals in society that take action.

            When I attended high school at Archbishop Rummel High School in Metairie, Louisiana I had learned something very important about myself, “Just Do It”. This simple slogan from Nike has been applied in just about every aspect of my daily activities in life. The saying, “Just Do It” is such a propelling and motivational concept because members of society do not commit to their actions. In regards to signifying the importance of a need for change regarding both deaf men and women, society needs to appreciate the gifts and talents that those deaf individuals offer to the community. For example, begin by treating them as normal individuals in public and social environments by interacting with them as human being. Appreciate the beauty of an entire different language that most deaf people use: American Sign Language. Provide accommodations for deaf people so that they too can participate in various activities socially such as: special microphones, headphones, visual assistance, subtitles and captions, being patient with deaf individuals that need words or conversations repeated, etc. All of these things are basic changes that hearing members of society can do to help promote the well-being of deaf individuals in society. There was one situation in the past where I was back at home at a local Walgreen pharmacy and in line to pick up my prescriptions. In front of me was this elderly deaf couple that was having extreme difficulty communicating with the pharmacist assistant because they were communicating in American Sign Language and speaking with extreme difficulty. The female pharmacist assistant was extremely rude and disrespectful to the elderly couple. When I got my prescriptions and proceeded to walk into the parking lot to get inside my truck, I ran into the elderly couple and had an enjoyable and meaningful conversation with them. After I got back in my truck, I began sobbing and had called my mom telling her that what had happened and I was hurting strongly internally. I was so upset and disgusted by the behavior of the female pharmacist towards the elderly couple. This example is a clear example of the need for raising awareness of the social justice issue regarding deaf people and deaf culture.

            According to National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), “One in eight people in the United States (13 percent, or 30 million) aged 12 years or older has hearing loss in both ears, based on standard hearing examinations”. This important statistic and fact is important to consider because it shows a relative estimate of how many deaf individuals there are in society itself. The important message of addressing the need for social justice for deaf individuals can also help prevent and reduce the problems of other related social justice issues such as: suicide attempts/completions, bullying/cyber bullying, discrimination in schools and workplace regardless of laws put in place, etc…

            The main idea to consider is that both deaf men and women can be successful in society if society provides them with the resources and necessities in order to survive. My personal story regarding my own deafness and experience with deaf culture in the past has taught me to be a strong role model for others during times of adversity because I can inspire everyone in society, not just only deaf individuals but hearing individuals as well. Life has interesting ways of doing things in which as human beings can be seen as complex and vague in our conscious mindsets, but the understanding of the concept provides a further and influential perspective into even the little things we experience daily.