Deaf Gain

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I’ve been a social activist, off and on, for 60 years. An important part of my life. Of my essential identity. I want to say something in that connection, about how important the idea of Deaf Gain has been for me, as I’ve come to understand how it’s used in the Deaf Community.

I spent so much time in meetings during Occupy Philly that it came to a kind of joke: what do the corporate capitalists and Occupy anarchists have in common? … endless meetings!
…and then,–working up to the Wells Fargo trial and using it to build public awareness of how those criminals were bankrupting public education in Philly…. until my hearing began to be a problem I remember the first, mass organizing meeting of Philly for REAL justice… how I had to leave when it broke up into discussion groups, because I could make out nothing of what anyone said in the echo chamber of more than a hundred conversations going at once.
Since then, my activism been pretty much limited to joining street marches, which feel more and more useless, and occasional Street Medic support — like two years ago, the July Shut Down Berks occupation (was that two years ago already… or 3?)
It’s really hard to see every day so much going wrong and able to do so little. Reduced to supporting stuff in FB is WAY depressing.
Because I can speak, and in the right conditions, one to one, I can converse ok, have to remind people in a meeting–and while they try, and mean well, if I’m the only one in the room HoH, it reverts quickly back to Hearing Space, where my participation is limited. On the plus side, I can tell myself: ” Hey! Look at me–Old White Man who knows to Step Back and let others do it!”
… but being the Dummy in the room, pretty much makes me feel would make no difference if I stayed home.
Has a lot to do with choosing to go Voice Off in public. People don’t forget it’s hard for you to understand if they don’t look at you, if everyone talks at once, has made me into a passionate disabilities advocate. That matters. Remembering you’re not alone– knowing there’s something to work for. That you can use what ever has shut you out of the Normy World, to better understand how Privilege works–to better understand ways we need to change how we live and work together.
Most of what those shut up in their Normal World look at as a “loss,” … isn’t loss, but GAIN if you turn it to service to others. And that way of seeing disabilities as “losses” is so wrong, so harmful in so many ways!
That’s what “Deaf Gain” means to me as I see in the Deaf community. People who learn and build and create new ways of understanding — Vision of what it means to be human in this world, connection to one another deeper than any of our senses.

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