I recently read a Dutch article about hidden world of hard of hearing people. There is a clear separate world of hearing and deaf people. But hard of hearing people like me don’t really belong anywhere. The writer of the article disagree that there is no hard of hearing culture/world. She believes that it didn’t had a change to grow, to develop. But I wonder how something can grow if most hard of hearing people feel like they have to choose in which world they want to take part of.
I have hearing parents and a deaf sister. I am in between. I know some sign language because I learned it from my sister and on special high school for deaf and hard of hearing. My parents never learned sign language because back then it wasn’t allowed. My parents are use to that I hear alright with hearing aids, so it was for me easier to follow what they are saying. Sometimes my sister and I use sign language if we don’t want our parents to know what we are talking about. They get us back by whispering behind their hands, so we can’t read lips. My sister is very good at reading lips.
Back to the article. She writes that there is a culture/world for hard of hearing people. Because of our shared history and experiences. Then she wondered, why didn’t it exist? Because back then when people couldn’t hear well might have been considered deaf or just hear enough to considered hearing. Also what she thinks might be a reason is that we have hearing aids and can hear it well with it. So for the doctor the problem has solved. An other reason is that lot of hard of hearing people speak well, like I do. They don’t hear it when I speak that I have hearing problem, until I mentioned it then they might pay more attention to how I speak. They can hear it when a deaf person speaks. Also hearing people tried to force deaf people to speak and it was forbidden to use sign language. Deaf people created own sign language, own culture, own world. But ‘my world’ didn’t because they were easier to suppress hard of hearing people because they still could hear something with or without hearing aids.
When I had a bit difficulty with being hard of hearing, where do I belong? My parents belonged clearly in hearing world as my sister in deaf world. But me…? Where do I belong? So eventually, I took part of the organisation for young hard of hearing people. But I didn’t found what I was looking for. I wanted the world to see hard of hearing people as a group of its own. Not have to choose between deaf of hearing world. I fear that hard of hearing people will always have to choose. Not belonging in both world and yet have to try to fit in both or one of the two.