When it comes to disabilities of hearing, there is some significant division between people over whether hearing impairment and/or deafness constitutes a disability or a culture. Though Kisor has no residual hearing whatsoever, he did not lose his hearing until age three, and his parents raised him to be a lip reader rather than a user of sign language. He never associated with Deaf culture; he has always felt he belongs with those who can hear. He discusses this in his memoir several different times, saying, for example, at one point, “[TDDs] enabled me to ‘talk’ on the phone with the hearing world at large – with fellow members of my own culture” (157). Kisor clearly identifies with a hearing world, not a deaf one. Furthermore, he feels a strong dislike toward associating with other deaf people, particularly those who cannot speak or read lips:
I stayed away from other deaf people because they behaved peculiarly, were too clannish, and depended too much on others for help. Associating with them, I feared, would diminish me in the eyes of the hearing people. I did not think the limitations of the deaf in g...
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...orce on another exemplifies the relationships of power that systematically devalue human lives” (71). Poverty can easily worsen the negative effects of a disability like deafness, just as the negative effects of a disability like deafness can worsen the negative effects of disability. Unlike Kisor, many people with disabilities of hearing deal with this issue on a daily basis.
Still, Kisor is completely deaf, which allows him to represent those with complete hearing loss rather than partial hearing loss. Additionally, he was not a candidate for a cochlear implant, so he is representative of those who are also not candidates, as well.
Though his story may differ in many ways than the stories of others with disabilities of hearing, Kisor’s memoir still sheds some important light on some of the issues and triumphs that come with not being able to hear in our society.
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