July 16, 2010


Someone once commented under a post I written:

I remember reading something where I. King Jordan (then president of Gallaudet) was giving an interview. The female interviewer asked him, "if I could give you a pill that would make you hearing, would you take it?" he responded, "if I could give you a pill to make you a man, would you take it?"

I found the excerpt from the interview here.

Apparently, after the interviewer asked him if he would take a pill that would make him hearing, he asked her that if he was black would she have asked him if he would take a 'white' pill (to become white). He could not get the woman to understand why he and many others view deafness as an identity. For many, deafness is an attribute not something that should only be viewed as something to heal or get rid of (I. King Jordan, Ethical Issues in the Genetic Study of Deafness, 2003).

I have mixed feelings about this. I don't like the idea of suddenly regaining hearing after taking a pill. If other people do it, and after ten years they seem okay, I would consider it. But, I do understand the idea of deafness as an identity. After being hard of hearing all of my life, I accept it for being a part of me. It is what made me who I am today. I would not be blogging about this topic right now. Most likely I would have chosen a different career path if I was never hard of hearing. I focus more on learning how to deal with it and use it to my advantage at times (instant ear plug when quiet is needed!). It is scary to think about changing myself all of a sudden. It would be like getting rid of a huge part of who I am.

What do you think of the analogy, "Making a deaf person hearing is like making a woman a man." ?



  1. Such questions require a flight of fancy to answer. Personally, I am so used to my Deaf identity that this wild flight of fanciful imagination tells me that I would indeed take the pill and become hearing.

    Uh-uh. Not to change my identity, because I would still be culturally Deaf. One doesn't change a lifetime of acculturation that easily. I'd just be a hearing Deaf person, rather like a CODA.

    Certainly there would be steep learning curves and adjustment challenges and frustration, but we human beings have met bigger challenges and come out ok. For example, those who become deaf late in life and adapt to a culturally Deaf lifestyle.

    So, hell, I'd try it simply for the perspective, the experience and not be afraid of losing my personal cultural base. Just adding a dimension to my life.

  2. Dianrez,

    I did not think of it that way. You would "just be adding a dimension to [your] life." I like that. That is a good way of looking at it.


  3. I agree with him... I would definitely take the pill... have you all thought about deaf individuals who spend all their lives around hearing people for whatever reason (small town or simply getting by without the need of an entire deaf community of support socially)... I've never really been exposed to the deaf community until about a year or so ago and I'm 24. Can you imagine me growing up only around hearing people and not wanting to "hear"? Just because some people are deaf and are doing okay, doesn't mean they don't have that desire to "hear". So you also have to consider those who haven't been exposed to the benefits of ASL, the deaf community and all of that good stuff. "Hearing" people may not understand that right from the start especially if they are just meeting you (at an interview)... but overall I just wish people wouldn't take everything personal. Be more open minded, be a bigger person about the issue, and EDUCATE those who may not understand your situation instead of snapping a smart remark back at the interviewer. We just can't expect someone totally different from us to understand us right off the bat.


Keep it civil.