Or if I may rephrase my title, is it better to be a hard-of-hearing than to be a deaf person?
Erasmus, a famous Latin scholar during the Reformation once said,
in regione caecorum rex est luscus, or in English
in the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king
Is the proverb also applicable to the deaf and the hard-of-hearing people?
Hard of Hearing (HoH) refers to someone who doesn’t hear well. This may be because they were born with a hearing loss or they may have lost some or all of their hearing later in life. Many hard of hearing people don’t know that they have a hearing loss.
A few weeks ago during our yearly National Disability Prevention and Rehabilitation Week (NDPR) celebration, our deaf students were invited to attend the “Persons With Disabilities Networking with Employers Talkshop” hosted by the Persons With Disabilities Affairs Office of Quezon City. Resource speakers from various sectors of disabilities gave their “from rags to riches” stories and how they overcame their barriers to attain their success. As always, a great majority of those who attended were deaf people.
I should say, it was truly a very inspiring activity. However, when it came to the “hearing impaired” sector, the organizers chose a “speaker”. I consciously quoted the word speaker because he really can speak! His story started when in childhood, he emphasized that he can hear. His sense of sound eventually diminished as he grows older due to a disease. He is what the deaf studies call, “post-lingual deaf”. He then mentioned how he was bullied and discriminated during his elementary up until his college days. But then, he succeeded and completed his education.
Again, he experienced discrimination while applying for a job. Luckily, his passion for photography earned him a job in an online news site. Eventually, he became a regular government employee. He is truly an “against all odds” testimony. Oh, by the way, he only communicates through lipreading and writing. He confessed that he knows little sign language and he chose not to learn it.
Some deaf from the audience cannot hide their feeling of a tinge of envy from this successful guy. They signed, “good for him” because he can talk! “Good for him” because he has a work! “Good for him” because he passed the Career Civil Service Examination (CSC) which is why he is now a regular government employee! Upon comparing their current situation, the deaf attendees started questioning themselves. “What would become of us?”
Let me state it clearly here. I AM NOT PREJUDICIAL AGAINST THE HARD-OF-HEARING PEOPLE. God blessed them with this residual ability to hear. They are what we call in graphics animation, the in-betweeners in the deaf world. They are neither here nor there. And since they can hear a little, then they are at an advantage compared to those who are profoundly deaf because probably once in their lifetime, they were able to appreciate sounds and speak clearly.
When one of the deaf participants asked a direct question to him, “you can hear that is why you found a nice job, now what about us who cannot hear?” Still, another one asked him, “you passed the CSC Exam because you know Tagalog, now how about us who have a language barrier since we don’t know the language?”
For these questions, he simply replied, “you must be more patient and strive harder.” Now, this is such a tall order, a piece of advice that is too difficult to fulfill. But then again, saying this would make us sound so pitiful and hopeless.
So I am more inclined to side with him and agree with his reply. Our Lord Jesus Christ said, “if someone wants you to go one mile, go with him two miles“. We must double our effort in achieving our goals. As another saying goes, “slow and steady wins the race.”
* – I deliberately did not mention the guy’s name because I don’t want to put him in a bad light. He is a good friend and I truly admire his tenacity and advocacy for his group. I may put his name here if he allows me to do so.