If you are a hearing person, please keep reading... I have written this blog post just for you and I would really appreciate it if you take a moment to read this.
Have you ever heard of "Hearing Privilege"? Let me explain… You, like me, have certain "privileges" over non-hearing people (deaf, hard of hearing, deafblind people...) that we might not necessarily realise.
Hearing privilege does exist, just as we are now used to the terms "white privilege", "male privilege" or even "deaf privilege" (which I will discuss in another article in the future).
I know that the word "privilege" might hurt sensibilities and make some feel uncomfortable, but I want to clarify that there is no reason to feel annoyed or awkward.
The word "privilege" is not about having an easy life. It's about self-awareness and appreciation of what we have.
If you still don't understand what "hearing privilege" means, maybe the following examples will help you get to grips with this concept:
➤ IN A SOCIAL EVENT / GATHERING / CONFERENCE
Hearing privilege is to attend a social event without worrying about if this is going to be a quiet place or too noisy (so we're not going to be able to hear or communicate easily with other people), or if the event is going to be captioned, or if there will be interpreters.
➤ GOING TO THE CINEMA
Hearing privilege is being able to access whatever movie we want when we go to the cinema. A hearing person can go whenever they want because they don't need to know if the movie is captioned and at what time is it played, which usually is very limited with not many options available.
➤ LISTENING TO A PODCAST
Hearing privilege is listening to a podcast without stopping to think if the environment is quiet or if the audio quality is good enough, or if it has transcription. We just put our headphones on (if needed) and play almost any podcast in the world - It's just nice to have that option, isn't it?
➤ GOING TO THE SCHOOL OR UNIVERSITY
Hearing privilege is beneficial to our school or university experience, and we don't have to worry about support or access to information. We expect that the teachers and other educational personnelare fluent in the same language as ours.
➤ CULTURAL APPROPRIATION
You have probably seen videos from hearing people who are learning sign language (and currently have very basic skills) sharing a music video while signing it.
In most cases there are mistakes in these videos, as the person is not usually fluent and doesn't know how to do this properly, HOWEVER the video receives lots of likes, shares and positive comments ("you're amazing", "this is so inspiring"...).
But when the same thing is done by a deaf sign language user person, people don't really appreciate it as this is nothing "special", is it? This is another example of hearing privilege.
And there are many more examples... But this is not about examples, this is about learning the good things that we can do with our "hearing privilege", for example:
As a hearing person we get "incidental learning", so we are able to learn random things from watching television, reading a book, talking with a friend, playing a video game or, as many language students do, travelling to another country and surrounding ourselves with the language. Make sure you share that information with Deaf people.
If you are watching the TV with a Deaf/HoH person, turn the subtitles on (Learn some "Tips for a Deaf-friendly home")
Understand the concept of "Audism" – discrimination against deaf people (watch our short clips and read about Audism here)
Talk with a deaf person. Learn about their history, their background, their struggles growing up. Learn about Deaf culture and the d/Deaf community. The more you are aware, the more you can recognise your own hearing privilege.
If you know a few words in sign language, such us fingerspelling or introducing yourself, just use them with those sign language users, they will be grateful for your support.
Please, be aware that this is not a criticism of what we have as hearing individuals. It's just about acknowledging that and appreciating it.
I hope that this information helps you to become more aware and make you realise how easy it is for you to access to certain things and what you can do to support this d/Deaf or hoh person. This is just about APPRECIATION.
And last, but not least, I would like to share with you 10 powerful Tweets on #HearingPrivilege. What about you? Will you share your privilege?