When it comes to many disabilities, such as deafness, things are not visibly obvious.
Throughout my life, I’ve had many conversations with people regarding how I look in terms of my deafness. Whenever I tell someone I’m deaf, I get common responses such as. “I’m so sorry”, “I’m suprised you speak so well”, or “You don’t LOOK deaf”. In some instances, questioning the validity of my claim.
Now because my deafness isn’t visually noticeable, it has led to a few misunderstandings with people. Especially at my place of work because my job sometimes requires me to talk to clients in person. To be fair, some of these misunderstandings have occurred simply because the person didn’t know I’m deaf. Because of this, some hearing individuals have recommended to me to wear a name tag that says I’m deaf in order to avoid confusion with clients.
However, when it comes to name tags, many of them don’t understand why I’m opposed to the idea. Why if I had to choose, I would prefer to wear decorated hearing aids with brightly colored earmolds. Personally I believe wearing a nametag that just says I’m deaf reinforces negative comments such as"you don't look deaf." Mainly because when someone says that to me I feel that what they're really trying to say is that I “don’t look like a capable human being.”
But this has caused some to ask why are hearing aids so different? How if that’s the case why would I prefer to have brightly colored ear molds so my hearing aids are very noticeable? Especially when technology has reached a point where I could practically have them be invisible. And I feel this is where people miss the point.
Because at the end of the day, I DO want my deafness to be visually noticeable. I have no shame or desire to hide my inability to hear. However, things such as the color of the molds, the accessories added on top of the hearing aids, and how I present myself with them is a reflection of my style and personality. I feel that HOW I go about presenting myself as deaf is important. Mainly because it plays a role in how I choose to define myself. That it's a way to tell people who I am, not what I am.