The Mask Of Benevolence

I am reading The Mask Of Benevolence (Harlan Lane). This quotation strikes me as particularly pertinent.

We were born deaf. We have been married ten years. We work like hearing people, live in a hearing neighbourhood, drive our car like hearing people, and take our vacations in the same places they do. The only difference in our lives is that we are deaf. Our two children, five and seven, were born hearing. Since their birth, their mother tongue is sign. Long before they could use words they spoke with us in our language. From their earliest childhood we made an effort to put them in touch with as many hearing people as possible, because we knew that the hearing world would be theirs one day. Now they are bilingual. Why don't hearing parents do the same thing when they have a deaf child? Why not teach them sign? Why not help them meet deaf people since it is the world they are destined to live in? When we were children, our parents prohibited our using sign. Because the doctors, the professors, the deafness specialists, told them to do that. Throughout all our studies, we were taught speech and lip-reading and hearing culture. But when we started our jobs, we realized that it was all a failure: as far as hearing people were concerned, we had always been and were deaf. They said we were hard to understand and that we didn't understand them. It was hard, humiliating.... Other deaf children should never live through the mutilating experience we have been through.
Jim CromwellComment