Dear Dad, I'll Always Be Deaf

Hey Dad,




Lately there has been a lot of confusion. I don't really understand why you don't want me to get a cochlear implant. I've heard you say I am too young, that I will loose my identity as a deaf person, but I don't think any of that is true. I know I'm only five, but the doctors say that's a very good age to start. I realize the fear that my identity will change, but you guys can keep me involved.




Dad, I am only five years old and so you say I'm incapable of making my own decisions. Maybe that is true, but what if I wait to get the implant? What if I am sixteen and wish to have it done and it proves to be unsuccessful? If I get it now and I wish to be mostly involved with the Deaf community in the future, I can always choose to not wear the outer portion or only wear it when I'm around hearing people who don't know sign language. That way I can grow up with the implant so I can communicate with my hearing friends, it does get very frustrating you know. If I get the implant, I might even be able to teach them. After all, we're the only deaf family in our neighborhood! Remember how you felt at my age? Now I have the chance to be different. To not know the same struggles as you. The implant will provide different struggles, sure, but they will be ones that I can work through. All I know is that it is a new technology that will allow me to communicate with everyone! It will allow me to experience sound, maybe not in any “normal” way, but still. I am young, but I am already a fluent signer. That is my language, and it will always be my first language. I won't just forget it. Just as I will always be Deaf before hearing.



The Deaf community will always be there for me, Dad. I will always be Deaf, whether I get the implant or not, that doesn't change. With this implant I can go out into the hearing world and show them what being Deaf is all about. I can get under the skin of those who are too stubborn to learn sign language. I can easily be involved in both communities. But surely I will always tell people I am Deaf, not hearing. I will tell them I am Deaf and I got a cochlear implant, that's all. And if they decide to view deafness as some disease, I will prove them wrong then and there. I learn from you to always stick up for myself and be proud of who I am. So, Shelby doesn't know who she is, that doesn't mean I won't. I can be included in both worlds! You saw that girl in New Jersey! And I'm sure we can find a school that speaks and teaches sign language, right? Or something like that. I saw you talking to Grandma, you know. And if I get the implant I am not allowed to sign? How can that be true? The girl in New Jersey signed, and besides, we don't have to listen to everyone else. It's not a law, you know. Why are you all so torn over this? It doesn't have to be black and white, with the right support anyway.




Forget what hearing people think of deafness! Forget what deaf people think of the implant! If you are so against the implant, is that not the same as what the hearing are doing to us? A hearing child can easily become involved in the deaf world by learning sign language. But a deaf person cannot easily learn to speak without the possibilities the implant gives. With it I can show the hearing who are too stubborn to open their minds to us. I can talk and play with my hearing friends and I can combine both worlds by interpreting for you and all my Deaf and hearing friends. I am only five, but I know who I am as a Deaf person. I promise you that will never change. Dad, I didn't fit into the school that didn't sign and yes, I loved the school that signed. But I sure would've liked to fit into both. You never really talked to me about what I wanted. Mom said this was both of our decisions, but I don't think I ever changed my mind. Dad, I will always have the choice of not wearing it. I will always, always know my identity as a Deaf person. I will learn and grow as just that. I don't want to be different, I like who I am. I just want to understand more, that's all.



















Your Daughter,





















Heather





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