September 13

“Deaf Not Disabled” and other Things from “Deaf Out Loud”


Please Share

This post is about the new reality series, Deaf Out Loud. Watch out for spoilers and opinions!

I have only recently “discovered” Switched at Birth and had no idea how much it would mean to me to see deaf people like me in a show (my post about Switched at Birth is linked here). I was stoked to find that that A&E was coming out with a reality show featuring deaf families (and produced by Marlee Matlin!).

Here’s the preview:

Deaf Out Loud - Preview

The first show aired on September 12 (which, depending on when you are reading this, may or may not mean “yesterday”).

Deaf Out Loud

3 families are featured, all with varying degrees of deafness, and with kids with varying degrees of hearing. One thing goes across the board: they all use ASL. There are no deaf people in here who don’t sign.

I love all the signing. I love the deaf accents when they do speak, and I love that they represent a fair smattering across the board within the deaf community. They got that part right.

What they could have gotten was someone like me – a deaf adult, raised oral and trying to learn ASL at age 45. They could also get a hard core Deaf person – someone coming from generations of Deaf family, someone for whom having a CI or a hearing aid would be totally unthinkable.

Aside from what I think would be a more complete representation of our community, I dig the directions it has already taken us in only one show.

It has covered the diversity in the deaf community, controversy over CI, what wearing hearing aids sound like to a profoundly deaf person, cost of hearing aids, deaf schools/hearing schools, family life and the normalcy of our lives.

Deaf, Not Disabled

I’ve got a beef with this. I mean, this makes no sense to me. They keep on saying, “the only thing I can’t do is hear.” Well, the only thing a wheelchair user can’t do is walk! The only thing a blind person can’t do is see!

This is why I think it’s so important to get it clear that the term, “disability” does not mean “inability.”

We’re not talking about a lack of when we say we’re disabled; we’re not saying we can’t work or have sex or live our life. What we say when we say we’re disabled is we are merely stating that we do something in a different way that regularly receives enough discrimination and causes us to face significant barriers to employment and education.

By my definition, the way we hear, see, talk, walk, roll, learn, think, communicate, look; the way our body functions, causes us to be discriminated against and also causes us to face significant barriers to employment and education.

This means disability.

I used to be like them – I used to get all strong-armed over the whole, “I don’t have a disability; I just can’t hear” thing.

How did that help me? Hmm. Well, when I got fired from jobs because I couldn’t hear, I had no recourse because I didn’t think I was disabled. I didn’t get financial assistance through scholarships for students with disabilities, I didn’t apply for awesome internships for students with disabilities, etc. I cornered myself by saying that I wasn’t disabled. I gave myself all of the disadvantages of disability and none of the perks.

Moving On

Deaf Out Loud is right after Born This Way, which is the reality series about a group of young adults with Down syndrome. It’s kind of awesome to me that there is a reality series for my daughter’s tribe right before the series for my own tribe, and I love that our perspectives, challenges, frustrations and daily lives are being shared with the world.

I love that there is obviously a desire for content like this on mainstream TV.

I love that we keep pushing for understanding, acceptance and cultural shifts and we can see this happening.

Support My Work!

Please Share

Meriah Nichols is a career counselor, teacher and blogger. Single mom to 3 (one with Down syndrome, one gifted 2E), she is also a cat-loving Trekkie who likes her coffee hot and black.
Meriah on EmailMeriah on FacebookMeriah on GoogleMeriah on InstagramMeriah on LinkedinMeriah on PinterestMeriah on TwitterMeriah on Youtube



You may also like

ADA Lead On: Thanks to the ADA!

Nothing About Us Without Us: Disability and Global Expansion

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

  1. I enjoyed Deaf Out Loud! However, I agree with you about needing to include more deaf persons such as you or someone from a hardcore deaf family like Nyle DiMarco.

    I am profound Deaf myself after contracting bacterial meningitis at 16 months old. My ENTIRE family learned to sign at the same time as I. I explored all the options such as speech therapy, hearing aids, Deaf schools, mainstreamed schools, having interpreters or not, and so on. I felt that really helped me find my identity as a Deaf person. I don’t rely on any hearing devices and only communicate through ASL with my voice turned off.

    I write about my journey over at Anyways, just wanted to share my story and that I am SOOOO happy that there is finally a reality show about the deaf community. I hope it will become a series just like Born This Way (I love that show, too!)

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}

Subscribe to our newsletter now!