7 Warning Signs You Have Audism

Audism. Blech.  

7 Warning Signs You Have Audism | What is audism, why do you not want it, and how to get rid of it! Learn more about Deaf culture

Do you have audism?  You could have it and not even realize it. You may not be a full-fledged audist, but you may have audist tendencies. Let's take a look at your symptoms. Answer yes or no to each question below.

7 Warning Signs You Have Audism

  1. You think being Deaf is a disability.
  2. You think the only way for a person who is Deaf to survive is with hearing devices.
  3. You hate when Deaf people don't speak or they make "funny noises."
  4. Your hero is Alexander Graham Bell.
  5. You think SEE is the only way to sign.
  6. You think SEE is lame.
  7. You think ASL is crippling.

How did you do?  Let's go on to explore each of these a bit more.

What is audism?

The belief that life without hearing is futile and miserable, that hearing loss is a tragedy and a scourge on mankind, and that deaf people should struggle to be as much like hearing people as possible. -- Tom Humphries

Tweet: Audism is a threat to Deaf Culture.

What does this have to do with you?  You may be hearing and wondering why I'm telling you about audism. It doesn't affect you directly.

But it might affect someone you know. Your opinion one day may influence someone that is then directly affected.  Am I being too ambiguous for you? I'm sorry.  Let me go over each item on the warning signs list so you can better understand.

1. Deaf ≠ disability.

I can point you back to this first post where I went over this. Being unable to hear does not mean you are disabled.  Do not treat them as though they are disabled.  No matter how much you disagree with the statement you do not talk to them (or at them) like they are lower functioning than you.  They are not.  In fact, I'd say if you treat them poorly they are 99.9% higher functioning than you.

2.  Deaf people do not need hearing aids or cochlear implants to get by.

I am not dogging on hearing aids or cochlear implants (CI). It is a hot topic in Deaf Culture.  Some individuals view them as a form of audism.  Some individuals find them oppressive.  I have some opinion on the matter, but I cannot really say 100% because I am hearing.  I can see both sides of the argument. What I think I've seen being the general consensus is that people should wait until the child is old enough to make their own choices about hearing aids and especially CI.

That being said.  They do not need them to have a full life. To have careers.  To contribute to society.  To be abled and not disabled. I say, it's for them to choose what they use and what they don't.

3.  Deaf people are not quiet.

It's a general misconception that they are.  I'm not saying that they're loud and weird.  I'm just saying you're not going to be near them and never hear a sound come from their lips.  In my post on Wednesday, What ASL Can Teach Us About Writing , I talked about the sound effects we use in sign briefly.  Beyond that they do make their own sounds. It's not bad or weird.  If you've ever been to a Deaf person's house you'll see that they're not quiet.  They slam cabinets closed, stomp, bang their stuff, and can even chew loudly and slurp.  It's awesome.  It's actually fun to be there and let loose a bit and not worry about how loud you're being.

You can also talk with your mouth full.  That's pretty awesome.  I don't mean speak and chew. I mean chew your food and sign (mouth closed).

4. Alexander Graham Bell is a hiss and a byword in Deaf culture.

Reader's Digest version:

He almost destroyed ASL and Deaf culture.  He and his father studied speech and spent their lives teaching Deaf students. His mother was Deaf and he didn't like it.  The telephone was supposed to be a hearing aid type device and not a telephone.  He believed in oralism. Oralism is, in a nut shell, forcing them into being a hearing person.  No signing, no gestures, just speaking.

He wanted the deaf to stop marrying each other (fun fact, he married one of his Deaf students). To do this he had the schools across the nation get rid of Deaf teachers, sign language, and the residential schools.  ASL was nearly wiped out.  It was awful.   In 1910 the National Association of the Deaf (NAD) rose to the defense of their culture and their language.  They made 18 films, one of which is entitled "The Preservation of the Sign Language."

August 13, 2013 was the 100th anniversary of this video.



5. SEE is still sign language.

SEE is short for Sign Exact English.

You would sign: I AM GO-ING TO THE STORE. In ASL it's: I STORE GO I

Now you may look at that and say what's wrong with it?  Well, nothing, really.  It is clunky and slow to sign.  It is also harder to follow when you are watching someone sign it. I am not dogging on SEE signers.  There are Deaf individuals that think SEE is the only way to go and if you use ASL then you are in the wrong.  This is a form of audism in the Deaf community.  SEE can help people who are Deaf to have an easier time with their English skills.  Remember, ASL is a foreign language, it is not a form of English. So when they learn to read and write (and they can do both, of course) it is learning a second language.

6. SEE is still sign language (yes, I repeated myself).

This is a form of audism in the Deaf community.  Those that use pure (and I mean pure) ASL and not SEE or Pidgin sign (a looser translation of ASL with a bit of SEE in there) will look down on those that use SEE.  It means you're trying to be a hearing person and that you're better than them. They may think you're a snob.  Pidgin signers can look down on SEE signers as well (Pidgin is what most people wind up using, even if they try to be pure ASL - at least that's true in my experience).

It's like any community and minority.  There is prejudice outside and inside the culture. It's sad and true.


Poem about Deaf that use SEE and ASL to come together, united. 

Some Deaf do not like hearing people trying to get into their culture.  About 9 years ago I was at a Deaf get-together at the mall and a man told me I THINK-HEARING and that he THINK-DEAF.  I said he was right.  I love Deaf Culture and do my best to honor it and to be involved in it.  But guess what?  I'm hearing.  No matter what I do I will always be hearing and since I was raised that way I can't be 100% in the Deaf Culture.  The only way really (for hearing) is if you're a CODA (Child of a Deaf Adult).

Don't go thinking Deaf hate hearing people. They don't. There is just a wary feeling with some of them.  They are wary because of their history.  ASL was almost wiped out in its entirety. They are treated unfairly every day by hearing people. They might have been bullied.  Any number of things can contribute to their dislike of hearing people.

7.  ASL empowers.

ASL is not stifling.  It is not going to cripple that person in their life.

I hope that you take a look at your viewpoints of the Deaf community.  Evaluate how you behave around Deaf and Hard of Hearing. They are people.  They have hearts and feelings.  They are powerful and capable and just as wonderful as you are.  You may not be hitting them, but the way you treat them can be just as hurtful.

Let them decide for themselves which method they want to use.  They may use ASL, SEE, CI, hearing aids, oralism, or some combination. That shouldn't matter.  What should matter is that they are true to themselves.  Then they can be true to the Deaf community.


Such a great video.  It is captioned so you can understand him if you don't know ASL. 

Going back to my earlier statement. Your opinion one day may affect someone.  You may think CI is the only way to go with hours and hours and hours (and I mean hours) of speech therapy for an oralism stance. You could talk to someone about it.  They may talk to someone about it who just found out their child is Deaf or H/H. Now their options have been limited and they may not get the full story. At least let them hear every side before they decide.

There's so much more to Deaf and ASL history.  I will talk about cochlear implants in a future post.  That is something every hearing person should know about.  For reals.

Tweet: I can get rid of audism, starting with me.

I'd love to know your thoughts on audism.  Did you have it an not realize it?