The following is a piece I was going to attach to an assignment that I have to hand in today but I changed my mind. I heard a lot of negative comments about the Deaf Family in the documentary below. They were explaining how their daughter having a cochlear implant would make her lose her deaf culture. Another Hearing Family (related to the Deaf Family) sees their son getting a cochlear implant as giving him opportunities. Many in my class did not seem to understand the pride within Deaf Culture and thought the parents were being abusive.
“This in no way needs to be marked. I just have a few things I feel I need to about watching “The Sound and Fury”.
I unknowingly watched this documentary years ago, probably in the early 2000’s and the kitchen scene with the deaf and hearing mother’s discussing the cochlear implant has stayed in my mind. I remember being amazed at the idea that something designed to help us could not be a good thing for everyone and as I got older I began to understand more and more why that can be true.
I identify as belonging to a different culture and although it does not have its own language like ASL it is a close nit community with a rich history and strong identity. I identify with Mad Culture. We are people who embrace our mental health diagnoses believe they are something to be celebrated. We believe in “neurodiversity”, that we’re all supposed to have different brain structures the same way we can have different skin colours, sexual orientations and gender identities. Neurodiversity is also used within the Autism community.
When I heard students throughout the movie make what I feel were judgmental comments on the Deaf Family’s objections to the cochlear implant and explaining what being deaf means to them, I was reminded of the judgments I have heard about my own Mad Culture. It is very painful to hear others put down an identity that you so strongly connect with. When I heard one student say that the Deaf Father was experiencing an “identity crisis” I wanted to yell out, “No he’s not! This man knows exactly who is he! What he can’t understand is why others, his own family, cannot celebrate his deafness in the same way!” I am reminded of the Social Model of Disability which states that the disability itself is not disabling to a person but the society in which we live in that creates the disability. Deaf Culture celebrates a part of people that dominant society labels as wrong therefore any objections to corrections (ie: cochlear implant) is seen as unacceptable.
When the Deaf Community in the DVD spoke about deafness becoming extinct and along with it their culture I understood their heart break. I know individuals with mental health issues who have made the emotional and sometimes physical decision not to have children because they do not want to run the risk of passing on their disorder. While no one would need to tell me twice how difficult and dark having a mental health issue can be I can also share the joys that it has brought me, the same way the Deaf Community can share the joys being deaf has brought them.
When I first had to interact with Deaf individuals in a professional manner I did not think, “I wish they could communicate with me,” I thought, “I wish I could communicate with them.” I believe we have a responsibility to meet them where they are and not always the other way around. This is why I want to learn ASL. “