Mark Drolsbaugh Essay

This essay has a total of 771 words and 4 pages.

Mark Drolsbaugh

On many occasions, I have been asked to explain this phenomenon which is known as Deaf
Pride. After all, people ask, how could someone possibly be proud of what appears to be
nothing more than a disability? On top of that, deafness is a disability which affects
communication... it can put an invisible wall between hearing and deaf people. So what's
there to be proud of?

If you had asked me this question many years ago, I would have been hard-pressed to come
up with an answer. Deaf Pride? What Deaf Pride?

What about all those times in mainstream school when I had to give up and simply say "I
don't know" because I couldn't understand the teacher?

What about all those times I was made fun of?
What about all those times when I was put in an audiologist's booth like a guinea pig?
What about all those times a speech teacher squeezed my mouth and said, "C'mon, can you say BA-BA-BA?"

Certainly nothing to be proud of. In fact, as a youngster I was downright embarrassed.
That is, I was embarrassed until I got a chance to join Deaf culture. I may have joined it
late, after years of unsuccessfully trying to be a hearing person, but the old cliche' is
true: better late than never. Meeting other deaf peers like myself, sharing similar
stories of oppression and ridicule, swapping humorous anecdotes, learning ASL, and seeing
other deaf adults succeed has completely changed my attitude.

I am no longer ashamed of my deafness, I am proud of it. I am proud of who I am, proud of
what I've overcome, and proud of my culture. Yes, I recognize there is a Deaf culture.

Some people may be groaning, "oh no, not that old culture vs. pathology argument." Sure, I
acknowledge that there are many people out there, even deaf people, who insist that
deafness is nothing more than an annoying disability. As my past would indicate, that can
certainly be true. On the other hand, there are also people out there who adamantly insist
that there is a Deaf culture, that deafness is not a handicap at all (swearing by the
popular motto that "deaf people can do anything... except hear"). You can choose whatever
side of the argument you want, but I prefer to take somewhat of a middle stance. My own
definition is that:

*deafness is a disability which is so unique, its very nature causes a culture to emerge from it.*
Participation in this culture is voluntary (I enlisted in 1989).

Being a part of this culture has given me a sense of pride. I am no longer alone. I share
a language, ASL, with many other people in the Deaf community. I share a history of
struggle which is well-documented; not only are stories related to growing up deaf passed
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