“She’ll always be deaf, you know…”

I hear (and see — on social media) this phrase all the time.  Parents who choose amplification and listening and spoken language for their children are reminded by not-so-kind strangers, “She’ll always be deaf, you know…”


Interestingly (verrrrrrry interestingly), this response:

  • Almost always comes as a reply to a post in which a parent says nothing about the cochlear implant “fixing,” “curing,” or, “making the child hearing”

  • Is almost never said to a parent with whose choices the “she’ll-always-be-deaf-er” agrees


Given these two circumstances, it seems to me that this is really an attempt to shame completely innocent parents who have made decisions for their children and their family, as is their right.  And it leads me to the question, “Whose DEAF is it, anyway?”


Of course a child with a cochlear implant will always be deaf.  You have to be deaf to get a cochlear implant!  Parents are aware of this, they’re not stupid.  But in 2016, “always being deaf” doesn’t mean what it used to.  No one “owns” the word deaf, and there are as many different ways to experience the identity of being deaf as there are ways to experience the identity of being a woman, or being Asian, or a million other characteristics that make us who we are.


Critics of Auditory Verbal Therapy often allege that deaf children raised without sign language will lack “d/Deaf identity.”  But what they really mean is, “You won’t have the same Deaf identity as me, the one I think is right.”  Well, signing capital-D Deaf Culture doesn’t own the copyright on the term.  Nor do cochlear implant users, or cued speech aficionados, or hearing aid wearers, or…  Call yourself “deaf,” call yourself “Deaf,” call yourself “hard of hearing” or even “hearing impaired.”  It’s up to you.  It’s YOUR deafness, make of it what you wish, and don’t let anyone ever tell you otherwise.

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