Monday, December 27, 2004


Audivism. Do you know what that is? Are you an audivist? Here's some food for thought from John Lee Clark's article in The Tactile Mind.

John Lee Clark

On Mirroring Audism

I have conversations going like the following all the time:

Deafie: "I sure wish you could see this picture."

I: "Yeah? Well, I wish you could hear Beethoven."

Deafie: "I don't need to hear Beethoven. I have full enjoyment of visual experience."

I: "Then I don't need to see that picture. I have full enjoyment of tactile, olfactory, kinesthetic--"

Deafie: "You don't know what I mean! Visual is important! I don't need to hear because I can see. Your situation is different."

I: "You don't know what I mean. I don't need to hear or see--"

Deafie: "Oh, you do! For sure! If there was a pill that would make you see, you would take it."

I: "Actually, no. I don't want or need that pill. Would you take a pill to become hearing?"

Deafie: "Of course not!"

I: "Right. I'm the same way."

Deafie: "But still!"

I: "But still what?"

Deafie: "But still!"

I: "But still... what? What's so different about my being DeafBlind and your being Deaf?"

Deafie: "But still!"

You get the idea. Such conversations are reflective of the oppression I often experience within the signing community. Some of it may be
natural: the oppressed themselves are oppressors. But I am often amused by those who rage against audism. They have their arguments in defense of the cultural perspective of deafness all lined up. And they are good
arguments, fully valid and persuasive. But when I present the cultural perspective of deaf-blindness, contending that it is like deafness in that it is merely a different--but still normal--part of the human condition, they balk at the very idea. When I mirror their arguments
against audism, they mirror the audists.

I am tempted to coin the word "butstillism" for this belief in the inferiority of DeafBlind people. But I am going to take my cue from Tom
L. Humphries, who coined the word "audism" thirty years ago by joining the Latin word for "to hear" with "ism." And so: audivism. It's easy to remember, only two letters added between "to hear" and "ism," the "vi"
referring to sight and the eye.

You can rage all you want against audism, but whatever you accomplish is worthless if you're still an audivist.