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.

Mother and two kids wearing statement shirts. Mother's shirt reads Advocate like a Mother and the kids' shirts read Be Kind finger-spelled in ASL.

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.

Now, it is your turn! Are you an advocate and/or an ally? If so, what are you an advocate and/or an ally for?

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13 Discussion to this post

  1. Meghan says:

    I’m a trans ally and a special needs advocate (specifically micropreemies). I am also teaching my daughter ASL so she can be an ally.

  2. Hey! I am an advocate for my son Logan who has autism and cerebral palsy 🙂

  3. Maribeth Zeleski Emmons says:

    I’m an advocate for my children’s education! Both of them have a hearing loss and I’m constantly checking on my daughter’s access to communication. She is part of a hearing support program at a fantastic school that also allows her to participate in regular kindergarten. It’s a great fit for her now and she’s come a long way since her hearing loss “diagnosis”. My son’s hearing loss is more severe than my daughter’s and he’s only almost two months old but I’m already thinking about his future and where he will go. He’ll have my support every step of the way just like my daughter did/still does.

  4. I’m an advocate for women’s health and Ehlers Danlos! It took me a long time to get the courage to advocate for myself but man things changed when I got the courage to speak up. I love this blog Elizabeth and How you have gone about being an advocate for the deaf community.

  5. Lorene says:

    I am a teacher of the Deaf and think it is so important to teach my students how to advocate for themselves. Teaching self advocacy skills are a huge part of my curriculum. Btw, Love your blog post!

  6. I’m an advocate for myself who has Usher Syndrome (legally deaf/legally blind) and also an advocate for ALL my children….especially my child with Cystic Fibrosis.! It is a lot of work to make sure we are being taken care of and having a life that’s just like others and raising awareness. I taught my kids ASL since birth (right when they were placed on my chest!) so that they can communicate with me when my aids are off and also to be available to anyone who needs to communicate using ASL.

  7. Jessica says:

    I am an advocate for my deaf 2 yr old daughter! We have had to seek out and push for asl services through early intervention.

  8. Ginger Casas says:

    In an advocate for my ( personal) kids and being included with their food allergies, and my ( speech therapy) kids by getting them the best care possible.

  9. Maria says:

    I am an advocate for my medically fragile son. I advocate and raise awareness for the needs of people with disabilities in our community. Inclusivity and inclusion of all, not just typical able bodied persons. I shout my sons worth and share our story so that we may not be looked upon with pity. I would like to show that having a child with many disabilities does not mean life is sad it just means it’s different. And sometimes dare I say even more beautiful because appreciate everything on a different level than typical people do. ❤️ @finding_our_rainbows

  10. Amanda Choi says:

    Hello!
    I absolutely love that I came across your blog, your passion & voice truly shines through in your words. I was first intrigued by your blog because my step mother is deaf & her vibrant spirit/positive energy is something to be admired by many. I personally advocate for survivors of domestic violence.

  11. Jessica says:

    Hi, I’m an advocate for my daughter Remi. Remi was born at 24&5, she weighed 1lb 7oz at birth and spent 192 days in the nicu. Remi has been lucky compared to some of the other micropreemies in the world but she unfortunately was never able to be extubated so she came home with a trach & gtube, she is also vent and oxygen dependent. I advocate for her at every appointment and make sure her doctors/therapists know I’m not backing down. Right now, I am the only voice Remi has and I make sure to use it everyday!

  12. Anna says:

    I am an advocate mother for my daughter with 2q37 deletion syndrome. It’s a very rare chromosome syndrome and not many people have heard about it or know about it. I push for my daughter to get the best care she needs!

  13. Ashley says:

    I advocate for my students who have behavioral challenges and deserve the right to be in classrooms besides their peers. I also advocate for my 2nd grade daughter with anxiety.

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