There! I said it! Ta-da! I finally got that off of my chest, and with minimal swearing as well. Quite an achievement on my part.
What am I ranting about, may you ask? Well, you see, once in a while I’ll come across a video either on my facebook or on my tumblr dashboard, with a friend/follower gushing about how inspirational it is, or how it reminds them of how to appreciate “the little things” or remind themselves how lucky they are, or how “meaningful” their lives are. It just so happens that a good portion of these videos revolve around disability in some way or another, and are almost guaranteed to be syrupy and involve the disabled person pretending their disability doesn’t exist (“the only disability I had was a bad attitude!”) or getting “cured” of it in some way and reacting to how wonderful it is to be a cripple no longer!
Two of the most popular examples I’ve come across both involve deafness being dealt with in the latter fashion. The first one in particular had my blood boiling, because it involves an infant. I’m not linking to the videos, but if you put the key words “deaf hearing for first time” you can find both of them. Both feature Deaf people having some sort of hearing device installed, and reacting to having heard sounds for the first time. Video one features an infant with a cochlear implant, and video two features a grown adult woman, though her method of becoming hearing is not specified.
Ironically, neither of them have captions, so Deaf people have no idea what is going on during the videos, even oralists couldn’t tell because the cameras are positioned in such a way so that you can’t even lip read what anyone is saying.
The first video bothers me more, obviously, because the infant in question has presumably been given the cochlear implant without any thought to consent or input of the one getting the implant, and the child will now be denied the chance to learn ASL and be integrated into the Deaf community. When it comes to surgeries which radically alter a person’s body and will totally impact the way they interact with their world and the people around them, that should be left until they are old enough to decide for themselves what they want, rather than the parents (who were presumably hearing) deciding for them.
The second video I was more or less fine with since it was an adult woman capable of making her own decisions, but the comments on it continued to bother me. “I take so many things for granted!” “What an inspiration!” “What a blessing for her to hear!” Presumably, none of them know what it actually sounds like to have a cochlear implant, so let me remind them, it’s not all lilting music and beautiful nature sounds. Or even any beautiful sounds period.
There is nothing “inspiring” or “beautiful” about a disabled person’s choice on how they best want to live their lives. There is a lot to make any decent person vomit however, when it comes to the way that choices which allow disabled people to mimic able-bodied neurotypical people are more prized and given priority over any others, and considered more admirable.