SASLJ Vol. 2 No. 2 - Page 64

Audism Humphries people’s lack of success with English literacy was suppressing achievement. A bilingual narrative was positive and empowering. At the time we implemented our approach, there was a great deal of new research questioning school designs and practices for underrepresented cultural and linguistic minorities in U.S. school systems. Racism and sexism were known to be active contributors to the suppression of school performance in addition to the social harm these belief systems inflicted on society. I came to see that a similar ideology was responsible for harms done to deaf children (and adults). From there, the creation of the word audism was just a mind exercise on my part. But naming it as a determinant of the poor quality of education and the cause of inequities in society provided an interpretive framework to explain the disparities. Simply put, when audism is practiced, designs for living and learning that are extensions of deaf people’s bodies and minds are lost to the dominant designs of others. Failure to name audism risks perpetuating the illusion that deaf people themselves are the cause of their own underachievement, and hinders and impedes opportunity to eliminate disparities. A lot has happened since 1975. Deaf people’s understanding of the forces of audism is much greater now than I ever envisioned. Theoretical and analytical studies of audism as well as the incubator of popular culture throughout the world shows us how universal is the desire by deaf people to be free of it. No doubt, one day it will happen. The pages from my dissertation appear below. You will do me a service by remembering that it was written close to five decades ago and displays a certain immaturity of writing and a voice that is much too angry for me at my present age. Nevertheless. - Tom Humphries Audism 1 "Here I have been writing of audism and audists. I would like to explain the terms as I coined and defined them and have been using them. Recently I experienced a need to have an English word that is to the deaf as "racism" is to blacks. After some consultation with friends about various possibilities, I decided on the word audism from the Latin "audire" (to hear). I think the definition of audism might be listed in the dictionary as: 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. From audism, we can derive audist which needs no explanation. Having coined this word, I immediately felt better for it. Why would one feel better for having invented a word that carries such negativity? Why invent a word that might be used in the future in conflict situations? Because I have experienced the full power of what I will now call audism again and again for as long as I can remember. Recently I have begun to recognize it for what it is and I needed a name for it in the worst way. Naming it gives me a better handle on it and makes it somehow less frightening. But it is no less a problem now that it has a name. 1 This excerpt was published in Tom Humphries' 1977 dissertation: "Communicating Across Cultures (Deaf/Hearing) and Language Learning", unpublished dissertation, Union Graduate School, Cincinnati, OH. SASLJ, Vol. 2, No. 2 – Fall/Winter 2018 64