Archive for February, 2010

Deafhood Foundation: Wishful thinking

February 24, 2010

When A.L. of The ASL-Cochlear Implant Community blog viewed the welcome video of the Deafhood Foundation’s website, the blogger expressed her concern that the foundation’s views on cochlear implants may lead to increased intolerance for Deaf children who have cochlear implants.  She wrote:  “I was actually hoping that perhaps the message would be positive and inclusive. Wishful thinking…”

DHF’s welcome video with Butch Zein starts off with Butch ticking off the names of foundations that promote oralism and then asks how many foundations focus on the “Deafhood dimension”.  Without explaining what the “Deafhood dimension” is first and foremost, Butch leads the viewer down the negative rabbit hole of oralism first instead.   Is this a positive presentation of what is supposed to be a positive concept, the Deafhood dimension?

Hardly.

For viewers who are not familiar with Deafhood or the Deafhood Foundation, DHF’s welcome video will lose some audience right at the starting gate, because there is so little to explain what Butch calls the “Deafhood dimension”.   There is only one sentence, “…the belief and practice where Deaf people are viewed as complete, healthy, and assets contributing to enhancement of the world” that says anything about the “Deafhood dimension”.

Marketing, marketing, and marketing, folks.  DHF has got every kind of Deaf Expert except a marketing expert.

Butch then states the foundation’s mission:  achieving economical and social justice for all Deaf people.  He signs cochlear implants as an example of “economic exploitation” of Deaf people.  There it is, the negative attack on cochlear implants that A.L. was referring to.

I noted a comment Dianrez left on the ASL-Cochlear Implant Community blog:

“…However, it (DHF) is easily misunderstood in its criticism and that is its failing.  People get the impression that they are criticizing those who opt for the implant and aids.  This is not the case, and they need to correct that impression.  The DHF is actually fighting the HEARING MINDSET, an assumption that hearing is desirable, mandatory, and end-goal of all efforts for and by deaf people.”

Deafhood activists have had at least three years to correct this wrong impression, and they are far from doing even that.  In fact,  DHF attacks what they view as tangible symbols of the hearing mindset, as dianrez calls it, not the hearing mindset itself.  The cochlear implant is one instance of a tangible symbol of this mindset.  A mindset itself is a philosophy, something that many people don’t grasp well, because it is something you can’t see or touch yet it is there and pervasive.

Same thing with Ladd’s Deafhood journey, it is a philosophy, a mindset, if you will, of the positive aspects of being d/Deaf.  But Deafhood activists in this country have cherry-picked Deafhood concepts and twisted them into political manifestos that for many d/Deaf it’s like treading an intellectual mine-field.  The Deafhood Foundation is that mine-field.

Have Deafhood Foundation board members looked at the taxpayer cost of maintaining d/Deaf people on SSI benefits?  Those costs far outstrip any cochlear implant corporation’s earnings and stock value.  Cochlear implant and hearing aid corporations have helped many d/Deaf keep their jobs in the hearing world.  So, the cost of CI’s and aids are small potatoes compared to the benefits the technology provides in the long run.

DHF launches a positive public awareness campaign geared towards corporations and small businesses to hire some d/Deaf people.  That would be a positive action towards changing a hearing mindset.

Wishful thinking…