Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Op-ed: "Does disability really need to be 'fixed'?"

"Does disability really need to be fixed?" is the title of this op-ed by John Lee Clark in Sunday's Star Tribune (Minneapolis-St Paul, Minnesota). John Lee Clark is a deaf-blind writer from St. Paul whose work has appeared in many publications. His chapbook of poems is "Suddenly Slow" (Handtype Press, 2008). Here is the beginning of his piece:

Every time there is an advance in surgical audiology or genetic engineering, a wave of alarm ripples through the signing community. Doctors are intent on eradicating deafness. They subscribe to the belief that there's something wrong with being deaf. So they make it their business to try to fix it, hoping to ultimately wipe it out from humankind.

But those who are culturally deaf are worried about the future of their language and their way of life, both of which are beloved to them. I can identify with their fears, because I was born deaf to an all-deaf family. American Sign Language is my native language. I graduated from the Minnesota State Academy for the Deaf, where I enjoyed a rich education. I went to Gallaudet University, the world's premier institution of higher education with a mainly deaf student body.

It was where my parents met and where I fell in love with a deaf woman who is now my wife. Although our three sons are hearing, ASL is their native language, and they are members of the signing community as much as we are. I love being deaf and would not change it for the world.

The article in full is here.