Audism

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Audism is the notion that one is superior based on one's ability to hear or to behave in the manner of one who hears, or that life without hearing is futile and miserable, or an attitude based on pathological thinking which results in a negative stigma toward anyone who does not hear.[1] Tom L. Humphries coined the term in his doctoral dissertation in 1977,[2] but it did not start to catch on until Harlan Lane used it in his own writings. Humphries originally applied audism to individual attitudes and practices; whereas Lane broadened the term to include oppression of deaf people.

Audism is a form of ableism, discrimination on the basis of disability. Like racism or sexism, audism assigns labels, judges and limits individuals based on whether they can hear or speak. People who practice audism are called audists. Although it stems predominantly from hearing people, audism can manifest itself in anyone, intentionally or unintentionally.

History[edit]

The principles and ideas behind audism have been experienced by the Deaf community for many centuries, but the term "audism" was first coined in 1975 by Deaf scholar Tom Humphries in his unpublished essay. Humphries originally defined audism as, "the notion that one is superior based on one's ability to hear or behave in the manner of one who hears." [3] Since then, other scholars, such as Harlan Lane in his book, Mask of Benevolence, have attempted to further expand on Humphries' definition to include different levels of audism: individual, institutional, metaphysical, and laissez-faire.[4] As Humphries' definition stands, it only incorporates individual audism, which includes Deaf jokes, hate crimes, and low classroom expectations of Deaf people.

However, Jean-Marc Itard's torturous medical practice, such as electrical shock and leech therapy, to "cure the deaf," cochlear implant surgery, the oralism approach to Deaf education, and the current mainstreaming trend suggest that there is systemic, or institutional, audism within society. This idea was originally proposed in Harlan Lane's Mask of Benevolence, as an extension of David T. Wellman's concept of institutional racism. [5] It was further expanded by H-Dirksen Bauman, in Audism: Exploring the Metaphysics of Oppression, and again, by Richard Eckert and Amy Rowley, in Audism: A Theory and Practice of Audiocentric Privilege, and institutional audism is now described as, "a structural system of exploitative advantage that focuses on and perpetuates the subordination of Deaf Communities of origin, language, and culture." [6]

Despite scholars best efforts to incorporate all aspects of audism, still, there was another important facet of audism. Scholars noted that deaf people who used their voice had more societal rights than those deaf people who did not have the ability to speak. In attempt to quantify this relationship, Bauman extended the concept of phonocentrism proposed by Jacques Derrida, "the supremacy of speech and repression of nonphonetic forms of communication," and developed the term, metaphysical audism. Metaphysical audism refers to the idea of language being a distinguishing factor in what makes us human; however, with metaphysical audism, language becomes confused with speech, and in turn, speech becomes linked to being human. [7]

On the contrary, society has become more and more aware of the humanity of deaf individuals; in doing so, another form of audism has developed which correlates most with today's society, laissez-faire audism. Richard Eckert developed this term to reference when the Deaf community's humanity is acknowledged, but their independence is denied. One such example of this form of audism is forcing children to conform to societal standards set by the hearing community through cochlear implants and other invasive surgeries. [8]

Types of Audism[edit]

Linguistic audism can occur by banning use of commonly used sign languages such as Indian Sign Language, American Sign Language and British Sign Language. Several schools have engaged in such prohibition in America in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and some continue to do so.[9] Audism may also be found in deaf education and in other corporate institutions and groups that deal with deafness. In these cases, it is believed that the educators, administrators, and professionals within these organizations behave in a way that is meant to dominate or marginalize the deaf community.[citation needed]

Dysconscious audism favors what is normal for the hearing community. This type of audism limits deaf culture and pride. This is done by creating an environment in which deaf people must conform to the ways of hearing society. It greatly impacts deaf education in terms of shunning American sign language in favor of communication that is based on the English language and more acceptable to people who are able to hear.[10]

Additionally, deaf people can practice forms of discrimination against members of their own community, based on what they believe is acceptable behavior, use of language, or social association. Dr. Genie Gertz explored examples of such audism in American society in her published dissertation.[11]

Audism can also occur between groups of deaf people, with some who choose not to use a sign language and not to identify with deaf culture considering themselves to be superior to those who do, or vice versa. This is a type of 'dysconscious' audism, a phenomenon which is discussed in an essay by Genie Gertz in Open Your Eyes: Deaf Studies Talking.

Active audism is when a person is knowingly engaging in audist behavior. The person knows the effects of audism, yet still engages in this behavior and has an audist attitude. Passive audism is when a person is engaging in audist behavior, yet does not have knowledge about the Deaf community. Passive audists do not think about how their actions or words concern deaf individuals, hearing individuals, or sign language. Passive audists act due to their lack of knowledge of the Deaf community and its culture.

Controversy[edit]

Activists in the Deaf community claim that audists harm Deaf culture by considering deafness a disability, rather than as a cultural difference.[12] Deaf activists call cochlear implants the audists' tool of cultural genocide that is wiping out the Deaf community.[13] Groups such as Audism Free America[14] regularly protest[15] against medical, social, and educational organizations such as the Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, which advocates in support of hearing aids, cochlear implantation, and the use of listening and spoken language for deaf children and adults.

Parents and professionals who teach deaf children how to listen and speak have been labeled audists who "should be tried and convicted of child abuse and neglect--and the Deaf child should be given to Deaf parents for adoption,".[16][17] As many as 95% of deaf children in the US are born to hearing parents,[18] and research shows that deaf children who listen and speak to communicate, but do not use sign language have better communication outcomes[19] and social well-being[20] than Deaf children who use sign language.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Harrington, Tom; Jacobi, Laura (April 2009). "What Is Audism: Introduction". Gallaudet University. Retrieved 25 February 2015. 
  2. ^ Capital D Magazine, Vol. 1, Iss. 1
  3. ^ Bauman, H-Dirksen (2004). "Audism: Exploring the Metaphysics of Oppression" (PDF). Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education. 9 (2): 239. doi:10.1093/deafed/enh025. Retrieved 26 April 2017. 
  4. ^ Eckert, Richard; Rowley, Amy (2013). "Audism: A Theory and Practice of Audiocentric Privilege" (PDF). Humanity and Society. 37 (2): 101. doi:10.1177/0160597613481731. Retrieved 26 April 2017. 
  5. ^ Bauman, H-Dirksen (2004). "Audism: Exploring the Metaphysics of Oppression" (PDF). Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education. 9 (2): 239. doi:10.1093/deafed/enh025. Retrieved 26 April 2017. 
  6. ^ Eckert, Richard; Rowley, Amy (2013). "Audism: A Theory and Practice of Audiocentric Privilege" (PDF). Humanity and Society. 37 (2): 101. doi:10.1177/0160597613481731. Retrieved 26 April 2017. 
  7. ^ Bauman, H-Dirksen (2004). "Audism: Exploring the Metaphysics of Oppression" (PDF). Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education. 9 (2): 239. doi:10.1093/deafed/enh025. Retrieved 26 April 2017. 
  8. ^ Eckert, Richard; Rowley, Amy (2013). "Audism: A Theory and Practice of Audiocentric Privilege" (PDF). Humanity and Society. 37 (2): 101. doi:10.1177/0160597613481731. Retrieved 26 April 2017. 
  9. ^ Bryan Robinson, Sign Language Ban Imposed on N.J. Girl ABC News 18 April 2010 accessed 15 March 2012
  10. ^ "Audism". Deaf Websites.
  11. ^ Dysconscious Audism: A Theoretical Proposal in Open Your Eyes: Deaf Studies Talking
  12. ^ Lane, Harlan (2002). "Do Deaf People Have a Disability?". Sign Language Studies. 2 (4). 
  13. ^ Thomas, Balkany; Hodges, Annelle V.; Goodman, Kenneth W. (1996). "Ethics of Cochlear Implantation in Young Children". Otolaryngology -- Head and Neck Surgery. 114 (6). 
  14. ^ Audism Free America
  15. ^ Audism Free America protest at 2016 AG Bell Convention in Denver, Colorado
  16. ^ Comments on Rosner, Jennifer. "Teaching a Deaf Child Her Mother's Tongue." New York Times, May 8, 2012.
  17. ^ Solomon, Andrew (2012). Far From the Tree: Parents, Children and the Search for Identity. New York: Scribner. ISBN 978-0743236713. 
  18. ^ Mitchell, R. E.; Karchmer, M.A. (2004). "Chasing the Mythical Ten Percent: Parental Hearing Status of Deaf and Hard of Hearing Students in the United States". Sign Language Studies. 4 (2). 
  19. ^ Dettman, Shani (2013). "Communication Outcomes for Groups of Children Using Cochlear Implants Enrolled in Auditory-Verbal, Aural-Oral, and Bilingual-Bicultural Early Intervention Programs". Otology & Neurotology. 34 (3). 
  20. ^ Percy-Smith, Lone (2008). "Factors That Affect the Social Well-Being of Children with Cochlear Implants". Cochlear Implants International. 9 (4). 

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