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Unread 08-29-2011, 12:29 AM   #100 (permalink)
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To answer a question way back in July: Yes, businesses can get tax breaks for hiring legally-disabled people.

To answer the original poster: Do I consider my HOH to be a disability?

Well, it may help to indicate a few things about my background. I was mainstreamed and beyond grade school I did not have any HOH or Deaf friends (they just weren't in my school). So I saw myself as a struggling hearing person, rather than HOH or Deaf. That was how I related to the world around me.

I was repeatedly told by the HI teachers to be "independent," which I interpreted to mean that I should not ask for help and to figure out solutions myself. Which meant that when I really needed help or an extra leg up, I did not get it.

Which meant that it was not until my 30s that I discovered the deaf community and the many services available to deaf people. I am learning ASL and trying to learn more about the community and so on.

I did not think of my hearing loss as a disability when I was growing up. I thought it was not a limitation. But on the other hand, I did not think of myself as a deaf person. No one said that I was deaf, and in fact said that i was not deaf. (I have severe-to-profound hearing loss in both ears.) So I didn't think of myself that way.

But there was no question that school was a constant struggle and was difficult because I could not hear well. There was no question that I missed out on social opportunities because I could not hear my peers in school. There were occasions where groups of people around me would up and leave and I had no idea where they were going. It would turn out that they were talking about going for ice cream or whatever, and I did not hear them. They assumed that I did.

Here's the thing. If someone would have walked up to me then and said, "I can make your hearing whole so you can hear everything hearing people can." I could have grabbed that in an instant.

The reason is that I didn't think of myself as deaf... I wasn't told that I am deaf. To me, my hearing loss was a bottleneck. A difficulty to find ways around. To find solutions to. Because I was faced with real examples of how having a hearing loss caused me problems. I wasn't concerned with defining my hearing loss as a disability or not, I just wanted solutions! I wanted the difficulty to go away.

So yeah, I guess it is a disability. And realistically speaking, as someone who spends 99% of his time at this point in the hearing world, I am aware of how it restricts me. I'd like a hardware upgrade, as easily as someone might change a hardware part in a computer. But I know that is not going to happen. This is my hearing loss, with which I have lived since I was born.

Yes, there are difficulties. But there are SOLUTIONS. There always are, for those who are persistent enough to keep looking and find them.

In this sense, we are not disabled. Because we have our intelligence and community and resources to find solutions to what we want to do.

That's just my perspective as someone who has never been part of the deaf community until last month. I respect that others have different views.
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