SASLJ Vol. 2 No. 2 - Page 66

Audism Humphries "But he can't use the phone." "She is nice and very intelligent but her English is just terrible." "Oh, you have such beautiful speech. What is your hearing loss?" "He is a very exceptional deaf person." "But I don't need a TTY. My wife/husband can hear on the phone." "I really can't stand her. She's deafie deaf." "He doesn't understand deafness. He wasn't born deaf." (To a person deaf for 22 years.) "But why should I sign? She isn't interested in our conversation. She's not watching me." "ASL isn't an academic language so we can't use it to teach high level subjects." "How can we give a liberal arts degree to someone who can't read and write?" "No, no, no. Language work isn't college level work. What? P.E.? Of course it's college level work." You get the idea? Most of these statements could and have been made by either hearing or deaf people and frequently are. What are the myths, the deep beliefs and attitudes that cause audism? If racism and male chauvinism are based on ignorance, audism most certainly is too. There is ignorance about the language of deaf people which leads people to believe that it is not a language, or if it is, is inferior and limited. There is a lack of understanding about how deaf people learn which leads people to assume that they will learn best in the same way as hearing people and to seek methods that try to duplicate the hearing experience for the deaf person. There is ignorance about the impact that deafness has on one's life which leads people to believe that deaf people are inferior both in intelligence and ability and thus should be treated accordingly. There is a lack of knowledge about deaf people's state of well-being which leads people to believe that happiness is not possible except in hearing modalities. There are a lot of other causes for audism. One is the basic intolerance in our society for anyone different in the slightest way. Another is the need for power. Yes, there is power in controlling the destiny of other people and the need for power has led many people to oppress deaf people to keep that power. Power politics has been the hallmark of the manual-oral controversy (and now the ASL-English controversy) with the result that winning has been more important than the human issues involved. Yet another cause of audism is the missionary spirit. This is not the same as ignorance. I have seem perfectly knowledgeable people carry on about saving deaf people, SASLJ, Vol. 2, No. 2 – Fall/Winter 2018 66