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All hearing impaired people get discriminated against. This discrimination occurs to varying degrees by different people and organizations. In dealing with discrimination there are few steps:

  1. Try to accomplish whatever goal you have in mind.
  2. The effect of discrimination is to frustrate your attempts at attaining your goal. Identify and recognize exactly what discrimination is occurring and how it affects you.
  3. Summon all self-esteem you need to identify, recognize and fight against discrimination.
  4. Inform your peer group about your situation and the discriminatory act which happened.
  5. Inform the general population about the discriminatory act which happened.
  6. Fight the preparators of the discriminatory act.

Typical denial statement

The following statement was made by a father to a deaf baby who did not believe that deaf people are actually discriminated against.

"Mr. DeafDude is quite fond of telling all of us how he faced discrimination, but from the way he related the story to DEAF-L and other newsgroups, I remain unconvinced.

"The fact remains that the world is not fully accomodating to anyone, including us hearies.

"It's easy, but not very productive, to blame all our misfortunes on a disability, and broadcast it around the world. One thing I will try to teach my deaf son is that the world cannot always accomodate us or meet our expectations, independent of any particular disability."

Philosophical musings about discrimination

Our interest in discussing discrimination should not be to blame all our misfortunes on the disability but to help each other figure out how to deal with it the best way possible.

There are many factors involved in discrimination: ignorance, fear, anger, frustration, irritation, power, abuse, authority, etc.

As people with difficulty picking up auditory information, we can have a harder time than most figuring out an uncomfortable situation. Since we don't overhear conversation, we can be more vulnerable to being treated badly since we may have less information and thus less power.

I think it can be helpful to talk about problematic situations with each other so we can strategize ways of helping others to adjust to us when we cannot do any more adjusting ourselves. And sometimes, nobody can adjust and somebody has to leave---that's a lot better than beating one's head against a wall.

Even figuring out whether something is discrimination can be tough. Sometimes the problem might be better framed as fear and anxiety rather than deliberate discrimination. People who have been intimidated for years because of other people's negative reactions to their deafness need assistance to overcome their own fear AND other people's continuing awkwardness which elicits that same fear. It is TOUGH to try to respond positively when so many people have responded negatively to one's disability for so long. Ultimately, though, I do believe it works out better to try to maximize the potential in a particular situation instead of listening to fear from the past. It just takes work getting there, and support of one's strengths and dignity.

(Contributed by Dana Mulvany at 3 Jan 1994.)

Last update date: 
1996 Mar 22