Thursday, May 14, 2009

When is Audism Not Audism? - Part 1

I'm seeing many other deaf call any kind of mistreatment of them audism. It's become too much of a blanket term. But first, before I start, the definition of audism as coined by Tom Humphries in his unpublished 1975 work "The Making of a Word;"

"Audism- (o diz m) n. the notion that one is superior based on one’s ability to hear or behave in the manner of one who hears."

In short, it's the application of hearing ability onto someone who has a hearing loss and may or may not use a hearing assistance device, and expect them to be able to hear well. I have often said that with many deaf, hearing and understanding can easily be two different things. Just because something is heard, if at all, does not mean it will be understood. It stereotypes those with hearing losses. Before I continue;

Audism by Susan F. Crist

She's right about how we've expanded the term. Thus, this is why others have said while others think it's audism, most likely it may not. Wikipedia's definition of audism seems to have a somewhat slanted view.

Think about how blind people feel when a lot of the world is highly visual in this article, Being blind, 'you have to be adventurous'. What would they call it? Visualism? It's quite true our world is highly sensual. This reminds me of a short story by HG Wells, The Country of the Blind where every citizen is blind, and there is no such thing as sight. Now apply this to a country of the deaf, where every citizen is deaf, and there is no such thing as hearing.

There's an interesting parallel to this short story and the hearing/deaf world. Near the end of the story, the blind doctors want to remove his eyes to "cure him."

Next: Part 2


Anne Marie said...

I think the definition deserves expansion to be more pressing precise. I wish for the definition to pinpoint the sadistic behavior of:

1) Pushing one beyond his/her actual capacity to achieve auditory and speech skills to what is really a false hope and denial of the actual limit.

2) Depriving from being bilingual, learning both languages English and ASL.

Simple as this.

Dianrez said...

It would be good if the definition specifically excluded deaf-to-deaf behavior. For example, oral deaf to signing deaf, Deaf to deaf, etc.; any form of horizontal oppression.

Such behavior being included weakens the impact of "audism" and confuses the issue. Also, "reverse audism" similarly weakens the term.

Keep it simple. It's majority values against a minority.

MM said...

Or minority values against everyone else's lol... I never took to deaf isms anyway, life is too short. When they started calling everyone non-cultural audists, I just gave up on it, it's a quirk of cultural deaf, they seem to need these isms a lot more than anyone else does. The pen being mightier than the sword they twigged an ism a day keeps culture in the limelight. I think the disability sector started it all with political correctness, and the deaf took it a step further. The issue with isms is nobody has any control over who it is used for or how it is used. Just annoy a cultural deaf person on ANY Issue, then watch audism wheeled out as a form of personal or cultural abuse straight away... The disabled use 'disabilism'. There's a whole awareness industry around these things so they tell me. No, scrub that, DON'T tell me !

Anonymous said...

Cochlear implants and hearing aids promoted as tools of audism discriminate against oral deaf people wearing these devices.

RSGeo-007 said...


Explain to me HOW it discriminates.

This statement makes ZERO sense.

It is a PERSON who commits audism, not a device. A device does not care who uses it.

Anonymous said...

According to some people, cochlear implants and hearing aids are symbols of audism.

RSGeo-007 said...

They could be, depending on someone's point of view, including how they're used and presented.

The use of tools, that is, hearing aids and CIs, is not audism. It is the BELIEF that hearing and speaking are better than sign language.

It is all in the attitude.

MM said...

Or alternatively, the belief sign language is better than speaking or hearing... the arguments are both sides defending their 'tools'. Hearing aids/speech and CI's are as important to those with them, as is sign language is to those that use that. Somewhere along the line the arguments centered 'in house' and ceased to be an access/rights issue of mainstream view versus 'disability' view, now we are content to justify to each other. We took our eye off the real issue, mainstream rarely figures in these rows.... that is the really sad and divisive part...

Anonymous said...

MM, I see it the way you do. An ideology always cites its tools (or strategy, if you will) as being better than their opponent's to further the ideology.

You know the phrase, a means to the end? Well, both sides are focused on the means, not the end result. Such a focus is always divisive.