This entry is sparked in part by seeing people, even well intentioned ones, ask the most inane and intrusive questions about the nature of deafness of deaf people or a group of deaf people. It’s certainly not limited to deafness; I see this same behavior with respect anything that’s “different” from the norm.
The person asking such questions seems to feel perfectly entitled to ask them, and seems to expect completely and detailed answers to be obediently offered up. Despite the fact that one can google up all this info in a matter of minutes. Despite the fact that one can read hundreds of blogs, including mine, for all the perspective one could possibly want.
I have some unsolicited advice: don’t treat anyone like lab rats under a microscope. Don’t treat them like they’re an Encyclopedia Britticana that can be flipped open any time there’s a question. Do your own homework, get out and about and just listen to what they have to say. Dont’ direct and control the conversation. Get off your butt and look through Amazon for books written by us, not about us. Don’t think that your credentials will be established merely by learning a little bit of sign, or starting off in some career that will “help” us.
This is especially true for anyone contemplating a career dealing with deaf people (or whatever group; this rant really covers a wide range of things, if you think about it). Why do you think so many of us loathe audiologists, “deaf educators,” and even a fair number of terps? Because so many of these people bring an arrogance and sense of entitlement along with them. “Hey, I’m helping you, so be a good little deaf girl and give me the answers.” In fact, that’s so twisted around it’s not even funny. An audiologist should never think in terms of “helping” her clients. She is providing a service to her clients, she is at their beck and call to answer questions and provide information when you get down to it. A terp is not “helping” us; a terp is providing a service and is not there to feel good, or to wonder if she can become a member of Deaf culture.
This is simply part and parcel of the tendency of most “normal” people to package up anyone who is “different” into a category very close to that of “children”: helpless, needing care and direction and guidance…
If you’re a hearing person reading this feeling hurt and insulted because I’m not grateful for your attention and concern, I strongly urge you to go out and read Harlan Lane’s The Mask of Benevolence. I’m not being mean. I’m here telling you I’m a fully functioning adult, just like you, and I deserve to be treated like one. If you have questions about me take the trouble to get to know me as a person first, don’t sit there with a pen and paper and a list of questions to rattle through. Don’t make me do your work for you.