11 September 2018
Audism: A Long-Faced Oppression Given a Name
Audism is not an ‘-ism’ that is brought to the media’s attention often. In this sense, it does not seem to have as much force behind it as other common prejudices fought against like “sexism” or “racism”. However, that does not mean it does not exist. There was no word for discrimination against the Deaf community until 1975, yet, individuals faced brutal physical and mental torment hundreds of years. Creating a name for a type of oppression acknowledges that it exists. It validates the ill-treatment of Deaf people’s and the wrongfulness and cruelty of the oppressors. “Audism’ is “the notion that one is superior based on one’s ability to hear and speak or behave in the manners of one who hears.”
People have stood up against Audism and, as a result, made positive changes to the Deaf community. The Deaf President Now Protest at Gallaudet University is a prime example of how there is strength in collective resistance. The students of the university wanted a Deaf president and were successful in getting one after a week of protest. Up until that point, there was never a Deaf president despite it being a school for Deaf and hard-of-hearing students. In order to educate individuals about Audism, the Deaf community must be able to represent themselves. This proves that acts of injustice must be matched with a brute force or resistance in order to bring awareness. Protests can garner attention from a large audience, government officials, and even news outlets. Just as we’ve seen with other movements, the more eyes on the problem, the faster action towards solutions can take place.
However, the inside social circle of someone Deaf is another area where Audism can occur. Audism can impact individual’s relationships with their families, especially when a Deaf person’s family does not learn sign language. According to the movie, approximately “69% of deaf children live in homes where members do not use sign language regularly.” This creates a complete disconnect in communication, which may contribute to a disconnect from certain affections that one should inherently receive from familial relationships. Family is the first community a person is a part of. Individuals in the film expressed a “communication breakdown” between their loved ones which created a lack of understanding and extreme frustration. Family creates a person’s identity, but when one is Deaf, I imagine that element of one’s identity becomes somewhat obscure from not being able to do so. Thankfully, there are people now advocating for parents of Deaf children to learn sign language.
Family members may want to try to find a cure for their Deaf child. Being born Deaf is an element...