Saturday, August 8, 2015

“Why don’t you get a cochlear implant?” I get that more frequently of late because of media attention to the wonders of cochlear implantation. I get that from random people from a sales clerk to a restaurant waitress to well-meaning staff at the doctor’s office. In more cases than not, they think they are kind to let me know in case I might not know about it.

Such questions are a form of microaggression, more specifically, a microinsult that suggests that I as a deaf person is inferior in one way or another (Laureate Education, 2011). As Dr. Sun (Laureate Education, 2011) explains it, the question – in my perspective -- “saps the spiritual and psychological energies of the person especially because it is cumulative in nature.” However, in the perspective of the people asking me the question, they believe they are being friendly and admire me for what I have done.

The question is very insensitive and ignorant toward me and represents the ignorance of the person asking the question. They might believe one of those or all of those: that my ears need fixing; that my life is limiting; that my life will improve with restored hearing. Truth be told, my ears do not need fixing, my life feels privileged to me, and I have a great life as a Deaf person. That is not something that most people will believe or understand. I do not understand how they would think that a piece of technology would make me feel whole, as if I do not feel whole in my body. As I would always say, “I am perfect in my imperfection.”

I would politely and firmly respond, “no thank you.” I bet that they would consider my response offensive or rude. Thus, I feel invalidated.

If you look around, listen to radio or news, or read, you will notice that Deaf people are not their own spokespersons.  We are powerless to correct the constant barrage of misinformation about deaf people and their hearing “loss.” After detailing our hearing loss, they would proceed to outline medical solutions in which they have vested interests. It is an illusion that we must have hearing to accomplish in our lives. And more importantly, it is their internalized privilege to speak on our behalf.

Deaf people have to speak up more often to stop this microaggression of deaf people. Social media has been a boon to our effort to reclaim our signed languages and our lives.


  1. Marla,
    My best friends brother is Deaf ( in both ears) and he has graduated from high school and college, and now works for the federal government. I often look at him and am just amazed at all that he has accomplished. Their family has never considered getting an implant for him, because he as done well without it. Kudos to you for not letting those statements hinder you!

  2. Marla,

    Thank you for sharing your experience and perspective. I had never thought about a person's deafness as an advantage. Your transparency has made me want to be more thoughtful in how I view someone's abilities that are different than mine as a disadvantage. I agree with what you said with regards to everyone "we are perfect in our imperfections".