How To Do More As A Good Ally To Deaf People
I’ve covered the first part of this topic of being a good ally to d/Deaf people. If you missed the first part, I’d recommend you go read it first. It contains the meaning of being an ally and the differences between an advocate and an ally. It also contains several simple ways to start your journey as an ally.
If you want to do more with your part as a good ally to d/Deaf people, read on!
Learn to sign preferably from a Deaf person.
Learn to sign or even just fingerspelling by taking classes/courses or using sources from a Deaf person or someone with close ties to the Deaf community.
Why is it preferable to be taught by a Deaf person? They are not only teaching you how to sign but it would contain things that a hearing instructor wouldn’t have. Examples: Their facial expressions, culture, history, Deaf humor, language accent, and so much more. Hearing people and native signers do not have the same language accent.
Hence, It is very important to research that person’s background before taking his/her ASL classes or courses. It is because you could have been taught incorrect signs. That person could not have been d/Deaf, a native signer, are not culturally Deaf and/or have close ties to the Deaf community. They are unaware if they are signing correctly or not.
They are gaining some sort of either monetary or non-monetary profits by appropriating our language.
For example… would you take a course about Indigenous people’s culture and history from a white person that did not grow up in the Indigenous people’s tribe and had no close ties to them? Think about that.
ASL should be appreciated, not appropriated. – Sara Miller
Simply put, if you want to learn how to sign and/or appreciate ASL, support d/Deaf owned businesses/organizations and take classes/courses from a Deaf person or someone with close ties to the Deaf community!
Help reframe the Deaf community online and in person.
Deafness is a huge part of the majority of d/Deaf people’s identities. Recognize that by sharing and spreading the word about any posts and videos you see online or in-person. By doing so, it would help reframe people’s thinkings about deafness and sign language. Share anything else that would recognize the Deaf community’s culture, history, and language as well.
Our history does include oppression, audism, and language deprivation among many other things, so bring those to light, too!
None of that inspiration porn, please. It would appease hearing people but objectifies d/Deaf people to objects of inspirational tools. Inspiration porn is when d/Deaf people are called inspirational or brave for doing all things that typical people do.
Example: Success stories of children hearing for the first time with cochlear implants. It is misleading because having the ability to hear is not the only way to be successful in life. Many d/Deaf people live highly successful lives without even speaking or hearing at all.
Learn about and recognize audism.
What is Audism?
“Discrimination or prejudice that is based on a person’s ability, or lack of ability, to hear.” – Deaf Choice
Audism examples: Refusal to accommodate a d/Deaf person’s needs and insisting that they conform to the hearing world. Refusal to accept the validity of ASL as the Deaf community’s language. Refusal to acknowledge the concept of culturally Deaf identity. Believing that they are superior to d/Deaf people because they can hear.
Every single d/Deaf person has experienced audism in one way or another. We get it everywhere, in our workplaces, at doctor/dentist appointments, in schools, in movie theaters, from our family/friends/relatives/neighbors, online, etc. Audism affects the Deaf community in overt and covert ways.
They believe the only way a d/Deaf person could survive out there is with hearing devices. d/Deaf people do not need hearing devices in order to have a fully successful life. d/Deaf people can have hearing devices if they so choose. However, hearing devices are just tools. They will not automatically make d/Deaf people hearing.
It is for each deaf individual to choose what they use or not use, not society.
Learn about and recognize the consequences of audism.
The consequences of audism can be language deprivation, being denied opportunities/responsibilities, jobs, job promotions, Deaf roles being given to hearing actors, and even having access to their basic human rights.
Without equal access and rights, d/Deaf people’s quality of lives suffer.
Hearing babies have full access to all languages including ASL. Parents are encouraged to teach their hearing babies how to sign to reduce frustrations and to assist with communication. In daycares and preschools, sign language is commonly found.
What about d/Deaf babies and children? 98% of Deaf children have no access to education in sign language. Only 25% of parents to Deaf children know how to sign. With no first complete language in the early years, language deprivation occurs.
What is language deprivation? Watch this powerful video about language deprivation: Deaf Baby vs. Hearing Baby
“Language deprivation has irreparable catastrophic consequences on the educational, social and vocational development of Deaf and hard of hearing children.” – LEAD-K
By writing about this topic among many other topics about Deaf awareness through my blog and several other websites, I am advocating for the Deaf community.
Other ways I advocated for myself and the Deaf community are working with interpreters in training and volunteering to read and/or teach books in ASL. I’ve also done Deaf mentorships. I’ve reached out and maintained contact with hearing parents with d/Deaf children in person and through social media.
I am also an ally to so many different groups of people to ensure inclusion and to spread awareness.
By now, you should be able to recognize the difference between an advocate and an ally. Also, you should know how to do more with your part as an ally to d/Deaf people.