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MOM: Is DEAFNESS a DISABILITY?

Posted Sep 22 2008 10:14am

With all of the discussions generated by the posts on Ethics and a debate that has ensued on the Pediatric Cochlear Implant Circle regarding "to accept or not to accept a Disney Pass for children with Disability" on behalf of a deaf child with a ci, I am curious to know the adult Deaf perspective on such issues. While checking out Dianrez's site for one of my posts, I found this:

Why do we say we are not disabled?
How is it that we do not regard ourselves as disabled? Is it because of the way we were raised, to be not different from other people? Is it because our difference is invisible and outwardly we look and move about like everyone else? What is the origin of this "not disabled" feeling? This attitude is so pervasive that we object to any surgery or expensive devices as less-than-successful attempts to "fix" us to meet Hearing standards.

The majority of the world considers us disabled, often to our consternation. When we say we want deaf children born to us, the world hollers in indignation, "HOW DARE YOU!?" They consider it extreme child abuse. Mostly, though, Hearing people take no notice and therefore omit making room for Deaf people in their communities. In an earlier time, people would shunt aside Deaf citizens, saying with impunity, "Sorry, we have no provisions for hearing handicapped people." As a child, I was taught, "it's a hearing world and you must adapt to them, not expect them to adapt to you." We were considered selfish and immature for thinking otherwise.

Yet, we gratefully accept special considerations such as schools for the deaf, colleges dedicated to deaf students, interpreters, government assistance, and electronic devices, among others. In seeking jobs, we willingly accept any extra help that comes our way. In public areas such as airports and meetings with public servants i.e. police, we tread with unusual care, mindful of bad experiences that our people had. Despite what we say, inwardly we seem to accept that we are different and that it means accepting help, if somewhat reluctantly.These special accommodations, some of which were legislated, are lifesavers for most of us.

Can we refuse them? Certainly we can, but what purpose does it accomplish? Will it cause people to finally believe we are not disabled as we carry on with pad and pencil, less than perfect speech, expensive aids and struggle to survive at the bottom of the employment applications pile? If we continue to insist we are not disabled, all that will happen is politicians happy to cut budgets and voters not noticing or caring.

Have those of you with deaf children or even you, yourselves ever used a "Disability Pass" to have quicker access to rides at a Disney World or other amusement park? Things got a bit heated up as parents asserted motives for using or not using the pass. Parents whose children have other disabilities in addition to deafness stated that they would never request a pass "only" for deafness. Another mother stated that she absolutely does not consider deafness a disability.

I posted this:
Re: Disney and Ethics: Pass or no Pass I've been following some of the thread kind of in dismay. Deafnessis known as the "invisible" disability because it is in fact invisible. There are many ramifications associated with deafness that we as parents deal with on a daily basis. We as parents make decisions every single day to try to make the lives of our kids easier. This is not a black and white issue, this is a gray issue.

If my kid goes to speech therapy four times a week and suffers sitting in that high chair from the time he is twelve months of ageand we choose to take a family vacation to Disney to reward him andourselves for all of the fatigue and stress and work behind his "invisible" disability, I probably would consider getting that pass to avoid one more frustration in his life. But I'm not sure. Someone once said to me that when considering disabilities if a person sees another child with a physical disability, they go out of their way (if you are lucky) to help that person. How many times have you seen people frustrated or irritated by your child screaming or asking someone to repeat something that they missed? Deafness is a disability. Each child is different and each family's situation is different.Would I have thought twice about requesting a pass when Jordan was a 3 year old frustrated child? Yes. Would I request the pass now? No. Would I judge another parent for taking that pass? Never.

Another Mother wrote in response to yet another mother:

I agree that Disney having the pass is definitely a good thing. I don't think that anyone has said that it is not. For your child, it clearly is a need. For mine, though, it was not. I think the point that I and others have tried to make is that it isn't a perk we should take if we don't truly need it because it is unfair to those who truly do need it and because it sends the wrong message to our kids.

It's all in the message...how do we want our kids to view their Deafness?

FYI:
Six Flags changes its line policy for disabled patrons
Sept. 19, 2007
Six Flags Inc. has stopped allowing disabled patrons to skip to the front ofride lines and is now requiring them to get a boarding time from anattendant and return then, as any patron can do with the amusement parkcompany's "Flash Pass."The new policy took effect Sept. 7 and applies to all 21 Six Flags theme andwater parks, including Hurricane Harbor, also in Arlington, said Kendell Kelton, a Six Flags Over Texas spokeswoman.The policy was prompted by abuses, including patrons who feigned disability and others with disabilities who gave wrist bands allowing them to move to the front of lines to others who are not disabled, she said."We would get complaints from people in line or our employees," Kelton said.The change made for a rocky visit to the park Saturday for Joey Miller of Burleson, mother of Noah, 7, and Mallorie, 9. Miller said that her children are autistic and that Mallorie also has epilepsy. She said she bought season passes this year and took her children to the park eight or nine times this summer. "It is the only thing we found that they could do out in the community that brought some joy into their lives," Miller said.

Miller said she learned of the new policy when she arrived at Six Flags withher two children, two therapists and a niece. She said they had misgivings but decided to give the system a try. She said they went to a ride, booked a time to return and then left. But that didn't make sense to her daughter, Miller said. The girl threw herself on the ground and bit her therapist, Miller said."My children don't understand time," she said. "The things that are reasonable to us make no sense to them. Anything more than five or 10 minutes can be a screaming meltdown for my kids.""I knew we couldn't go through this on every ride. The stress could bring on a seizure for my daughter," Miller said. Park officials, however, said they hope the extra step -- having to make an appointment -- will cut down on cheaters and be fairer for everyone.

The Flash Pass option is essentially a reservation. Guests wait as long as everyone else is waiting, but not in line. Guests can leave and then comeback and get directly on the ride. Similarly, Disney theme parks offer a "FastPass." Most rides and attractionshave handicapped access, but in most cases guests with disabilities have towait in line like everybody else, said Andrea Finger, a Disney theme parks spokeswoman. Disney parks, however, may provide different accommodations depending on thedisability of their guests, she said.Policy for disabled park patrons Six Flags Inc. no longer allows park patrons with disabilities to move to the front of ride lines. Under the revised policy, guests with disabilities should seek a Flash Pass reservation and return to the ride at that time to avoid waiting in line.
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