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The Paradox and Irony of Hidden Disability

  March 20, 2017   

I do not think it is my imagination that I am seeing more limbless veterans walking down the street with their prosthetic limbs on display. Whereas before they would be hidden under long trousers and sleeved shirts, they are now fearlessly exposed to public gaze as their owners stride along wearing T-shirts and shorts whatever the weather: confident that people will see and understand, without censure.

Oh, how I would welcome this feeling of openness and comfort for the deaf! After all our deafness is the auditory version of a missing limb: it is a sensory amputation. Also, our hearing aids are just as much of a prosthetic as an artificial limb. There should not be any shame in having lost our hearing, because it is rarely our fault, so equally there should be no feeling of embarrassment in wearing any kind of assistive hearing device, displayed for all to see.

Ultimately, it is not fair for us to struggle with our deafness alone, but it is also not fair for the “abled” either, to be so consistently tricked and misled by deaf people wearing “invisible” hearing devices. Perhaps now is the right time for a change in the public’s perception of deafness. Perhaps like the courageous service veteran amputees, it is time for us to be brave about our disability and become more open and honest about the challenges that deafness presents.

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These stories are tagged with: being open Invisible Disability deafness