What is Audism? What is it like being deaf in a hearing world?
Audism is based on the attitude that one is somehow of more value based on their ability to hear. Audism is where a Hearing person feels that life as a deaf person is not valued, is futile or miserable. Audism is having a negative stigma towards anyone who does not hear.
In other words , Audism is discrimination against the deaf
Internalized attitudes toward the deaf that are systemic are known as Dysconscious Audism.
So how are these systemic barriers to inclusion practiced in a hearing world? Society as a whole is guilty in some way, shape or form. As a deaf person myself I face Audism all day long. Audism is practiced by business, government, retailers, public sector workers, banks, in fact Audism is practiced by just about everyone at some point in time
Let me explain.
In the morning I turn on the news. The newsfeed is captioned by an automatic system perhaps Google. Google captures at best, 60% of the spoken word. The fact the newsfeed feels that’s ok is audism. Imagine if hearing people only heard 60% of what was said on that broadcast, the station would be vilified.
Next I start my car to go to work and it’s not cooperating. I have to call road-side assistance. Since I can’t use a phone I have two choices. Look up the email address for roadside assistance or text my message using the road-side assistance number. That text bounces back because their system doesn’t accept text. That’s ok, I will check for an email. Nope, no email. That’s Audism
Then I have to discuss an overcharge on a bill I received for a toll highway. No email address, no text , only a phone number. So I have to get someone else to call. Operator says only the cars owner can call. When notified that the car owner is deaf, the only solution provided is that I drive 75km’s on said toll highway and visit their office. That’s audism
But not all is lost. It’s time for my first meeting of the day at a coffee shop. We both order but the cashier has questions and I can’t understand her. I mention that I am deaf so the cashier then speaks only to my friend. That’s Audism.
At the airport (an airport as big, busy and new as Pearson) announcements are oral, there’s no visual announcements, that’s Audism.
My boarding pass states I am deaf. The cheery gate clerk pages me to make sure I am at the gate. That’s Audism.
During the safety briefing the flight attendant hands me a Braille safety sheet. That’s Audism (not Air Canada, those guys are brilliant)
During the flight the flight attendant asks me if I will be ok with the two choices for dinner. Yes of course why wouldn’t I? I ask. She replies “you have special needs.” That’s Audism.
We finally land and I get my rental car. Attendant is quite concerned that a deaf guy has chosen a powerful sports car and suggests something more demure, that’s audism
At the hotel I have another meeting, this time with a number of people, Having difficulty following the conversation I ask the person next to me what was said. They reply with one or two words leaving me with task of understanding the entire conversation based on two words. That’s Audism
Audism, it’s tiring as heck
Inclusion, be direct, be daring, be bold.