Melissa: I don’t think it does. We believe that children born deaf who receive CIs and learn to hear and speak and live their lives fully in the mainstream will have a better life. Does that make us audists?
Amy: I totally agree. I don’t believe it does exist. There ARE times when individuals are discriminated against based on disabilities, but that is not the same at all. Yes, hearing is a good thing. I don’t think that makes me anything which can end with -ist. It’s not as if it is the same as being a racist, etc. Human animals are meant to hear, and any time we can assist people toward that goal is good (which we have done)! No doubt we would not think twice about loving our kids and whatever communication they used if we lived 200 or 1000 years ago… but we would always wish that they could hear, to make their lives easier.
Melissa: The issue is that easier and better doesn’t equal superior. By that I mean that I believe that children born deaf who receive cochlear implants at a young age and learn to hear and speak will have easier lives and will have more opportunities open to them. I don’t believe that they are superior to those who live their lives in the deaf culture, but I do believe that my girls’ lives are better than they would have been without the ability to hear and speak well. Why else would I have put them through surgery?
I am glad that they can communicate with anyone without an interpreter by their side or without having to write back and forth. I am glad that they could choose any school and socialize with the other students at those schools with ease. I’m glad that I can speak to them on the phone when they are not home. I’m glad that they can hear and enjoy music. I’m glad that they are fully a part of family gatherings. All of these things to me enhance their lives.
Amy: Yes, it’s easier and better. And a recent study showed kids exhibiting greater psychological well being, even. (Click here for the study abstract) Certainly we would wish that for our children. I compare it to many other disabilities, both large and small… many parents would do what was necessary or possible to remove other hindrances to communication or physical freedom. We would (and do) provide eyeglasses, wheelchairs or future biological aids for spinal cord injuries, speech therapy to allow less frustration during communication. This list could go on and on. We begin caring for our children in early life, and the fact that we cared enough to allow them to maximize what science allows today has nothing to do with audism!
There is a difference between thinking that someone is better/superior vs. having better opportunities or an easier life. I do not think that a child born to more educated parents or who is living in a developed country is in any way “better” than a child born in poverty or in a country without educational opportunities. But I do think that their lives will be easier.
These are two very different things. And obviously, I would want to do anything humanly possible for my child to have opportunities. I can’t personally make them a motivated individual– their achievement will be largely up to them– but I can give them the tools to make it possible.
Melissa: So then, coming back to the original question – Does Audism exist? I do not think so, but there are those in the deaf culture who believe that it does. I think that it is their own insecurities that cause them to believe the choice of others to value hearing and spoken language implies that they are inferior because they cannot hear and speak well. Those of us who do value hearing and spoken language have never stated this. We may believe that we have made choices to provide our children with a better life, but the idea that we, therefore, believe that those who cannot hear and speak are “inferior” is an idea of their own creation, not ours.
Amy: We have shown that parents do not exhibit audism by implanting kids, teaching them to speak, or by valuing hearing. I have heard those in the deaf culture accuse random strangers of audism, too– people who are simply showing ignorance or general discrimination. And, sometimes, it is neither of those, but practicality regarding ability to perform a job when one cannot hear. Again, it’s not “audism” in either case.