One of my pet hates in life is to have to constantly prove that I am deaf. You know society mistrusts everyone so much that you must show that you are the real deal. Often it is necessary because people do take advantage. For example they will try to de-fraud Centrelink of Disability Pension money by pretending that they have a disability of some sort. Sometimes proving one has a disability is just logical. Often it is not. In fact it is often just a down right abuse of human dignity.
For example, a deaf person going to University might meet one of the University disability support staff to try and work out the most appropriate type of support that they can get. Perhaps it is captioning or perhaps an interpreter is required. Some may just simply require a hearing loop so that they can utilise their hearing they have more effectively. The deaf person will rock up for the initial interview. They will show their hearing aids, they might even have an interpreter for the initial interview. It will be obvious that they are deaf. They may have a deaf voice, they may sign to communicate or simply they will have a cochlear implant for all to see.
So they will have their initial interview and they will work out the support that they require to study. It may be technology or it might be a sign language interpreter. The assessment interview might take an hour. The disability support person will know clearly that the person is deaf simply because deaf person spent the last hour signing their answers to them. Yet despite this they will insist that before any support is given that the deaf person must provide an audiogram or a letter from their Doctor verifying that they are deaf. I mean hearing people just decide for the fun of it that they will pretend they are deaf, book interpreters and have their lectures interpreted for them … you know simply because its fun. Lots of people are weird like that – go figure. Sometimes a little common sense is required.
So it was with great dismay that I found out today that to participate in national or state deaf sporting events in the future that I will have to provide an audiogram. I mean I have only been involved in the Deaf community for 28 years. I entered it when I was 18 and have partaken in three Australian Deaf Games, numerous national and state deaf golf championships, a few Southern Cross Soccer Championships and even a Deaf Mixed Netball Championships. I thought that everyone knew that I was deaf. Apparently not. You see – all these years they have actually suspected that I might be hearing and because of this I now must submit an audiogram before I partake in any official Deaf sporting events ever again. I must do this to prove to them what I and they already know – that I am deaf.
Of course I do not have an audiogram. I have not seen an audiologist since I left school. So I must pay some money to a doctor or an audiologist to show that I am deaf. Bugger the fact that I must pay registration fees, travel and accommodation costs to participate in deaf sporting events, I now must pay an additional sixty bucks or so to verify I am deaf. I thought they already knew. How could I have been so stupid. I am a hearing person in disguise and I did not even KNOW!
You know deaf sport is really corrupt. We find the best hearing people we can, just to win, and make them pretend that they are deaf. Yeah, and then these people go on to represent Australia pretending that they are deaf. Real deaf people miss out because hearing people are just wanting to replace deaf people in everything! Winning is so important that deaf sports teams are gonna stack their teams with elite hearing athletes. There is no financial gain involved. These hearing people actually have to pay for the privilege of pretending to be deaf and partaking in deaf sport. They are queuing up to abuse the system – they are everywhere! Yep, they will pay thousands for the honour. ” Hey I am hearing, I am so good I represented the Deaf Tiddley Winks Team in Nepal, and paid $10 000 for the privilege — HE HE HE HE —- Ain’t I sneaky???”
Ok I am getting a little cynical but the Deaf community was the last bastion in the world where I could just be deaf and not have to prove it. I didn’t have to see a doctor for a report that said my mid range frequencies were at the mega hertz levels while my lower range ones were in the mini hertz levels. The Deaf community was somewhere where my deafness was just accepted as a normal state of being. Medical models, doctors and audiologist did not exist. Sadly, not anymore!
Now I have heard all the arguments about why we must now prove that we are deaf. The international deaf sporting bodies demand it. It ensures deaf sport remains deaf sport and it allows data to be gathered that can be used to apply for additional funding, I am sorry but I don’t buy any of these arguments. If you get picked at international level then why not get an audiogram then. Surely deaf sport at national and state level has more value than simply winning! Data is available everywhere. If you want to know how many deaf people were fitted with hearing aids just ask Australian Hearing to provide you with longitudinal data . Hell, if you look hard enough you might even find the information on the Web. Contact the Eye and Ear hospital for information about how many kids have been implanted in the last 20 years and at what age. Its not difficult to develop a statistical argument for deaf participation in sport using this sort of data.
The people that are insisting on this new strict audiogram policy for participation at Deaf national and state sporting events are actually very good friends of mine. I know they have made the decision to demand audiograms with the best of intentions. Unfortunately this time I think they have got it very wrong. Deaf sport at a national or state level, to me anyway, is about fun, socialising and memories. Winning is way down the pecking order. I find this new policy lacking in common sense. I find it autocratic and overly officious. Hell, they are threatening disciplinary action if audiograms are not provided. The Deaf community, particularly its sporting events, was the last bastion where I could be a person without the medical crap following me – sadly this is now no longer the case.