Saturday, 6 August 2016

The Devaluation of the Hard of Hearing Person?

It comes as no surprise that being hard of hearing has led to many chance encounters with a variety of people. Most of the time, as Canadians, we are far too polite to open our mouths when we see something out of the ordinary.

Other times, we get pretty ignorant questions, such as:

"If you and your husband can't hear, does that mean that your children won't be able to hear?"  Answer: Not necessarily.

"How did your children end up with normal hearing?" Answer: we don't know. They just have normal hearing like your kids!

"How do you talk on the phone?" Answer: do you hear me talking to you right this moment?

Questions like these are pretty common, and I usually brush them off because we consider the source. Those that ask us the abovementioned questions are usually random strangers who may not have had the opportunity to meet a person with a hearing loss.

In other cases, inappropriate behaviour can arise. Note: the following scenario didn't happen to us, but it definitely happened to friends of ours. With their permission, it warrants a blog post because it came as such a shock to me. (and to add, even family members are asking the same type of questions... I've been very fortunate not to get the same questions from my own family!)

Imagine having a conversation with a friend of a friend (you: the hard of hearing person with a family), simply out of courtesy and wanting to get to know each other better. 

This supposed "friend" would be expected to be respectful toward you, your significant other, and any children involved. In this case, you with a hearing loss received some rather unsettling feedback: that having a baby was considered a "high risk pregnancy". Worse yet, this statement was made in front of your own child - whose feelings are not being considered.

High risk pregnancy? Really? Smells like jealousy. (turns out the baby was perfectly healthy in all aspects!) FYI: Having a baby and having a hearing loss isn't considered "high risk" - I know that for a fact as I've been through it twice and no one has ever classified me in that order.

Comments like "high risk pregnancy" should not be used. Why not focus on the positives - such as the opportunity to see what your children can accomplish, disabled or not. Why not focus on loving your family for who they are, not what they are? In the news yesterday, there was a mass murder of disabled persons in Japan - it barely scratched the headlines leading me to presume that there is a slow sort of devaluation of human beings with disabilities.

If I had a child with down syndrome, I would not love that child any less than I would toward a child with no apparent health concerns.  As parents, we are placed on this earth to take care of the souls that God has entrusted to us. To conclude, those who are hard of hearing, or in a relationship with a hard of hearing person have chosen to accept that life for it as it is. 

End rant. You can share your feedback on this.


  1. I'm just very grateful your parents didn't follow advice re: bringing you into the world... imagine not having you for a daughter! P.S. my favourite question as parent of HoH child - "How come he is wearing hearing aids?" Should have said, "So he can see better; why do you think?"

    1. The silliest of questions come up for us too! I remember someone asking Curtis why his earmolds were white (in 2010, at a CHHA Conference!), and his reply: "because I like white earmolds". Duh.