Deaf does not equal disability


Editorial cartoon by Olivia Swanson

Paladin Editorial Staff

A staff editorial is the opinion of the Kapaun Mt. Carmel Paladin newsmagazine staff. The intent is to state a opinion related to a news story and make suggestion for change or compliment something.

The United States contains about one million citizens who are deaf, functionally deaf, need assisted hearing devices, or are gradually becoming deaf, according to PubMed, a database from the National Library of Medicine. It is important to keep in mind how anyone could have hearing complications. It can be difficult to recognize that someone could have hearing problems because being deaf does not impact how someone looks. However, it can greatly impact how someone feels. Discrimination against those who are deaf, also known as audism, is an issue that happens in the workplace and even in the family environment.

A Newsweek survey from 2019 shows 72 percent of families do not use sign language with their deaf children. Not having proper communication with their parents, the children could suffer from decreased academic performances and undeveloped social skills. Deaf teens, who’s families do not learn sign language, may suffer from depression, and bad relationships with their parents. As they get older, those who are deaf find it difficult to live independently.

Despite not learning sign language from their parents, most adolescents learn sign language on their own or they invest in helpful devices like cochlear implants and hearing aids. Although they are now able to communicate better, they may experience different forms of discrimination.

Newsweek’s survey shows one in four deaf workers have left their job due to discrimination. Some employers believe that trying to communicate with a deaf employee is too burdensome or is completely impossible. Others might face discrimination from their fellow employees. Those who are deaf or hard of hearing notice that other employees don’t want to try and strike a conversation, or keep their conversations short. Comments like “ You speak well for someone who can’t hear,” or “You are deaf? Oh I’m so sorry” can be offensive and make a workplace untenable.

The remedy for fixing audism isn’t for everyone to learn sign language, but to be more aware of people’s needs in order to communicate with them. Those who are deaf or are hard of hearing are encountering new forms of technology, which is helping them not only at work, but in the grocery store, speaking on the phone and having better interactions overall. People living with hearing impairments should be respected and treated as any other person.