CHRIS MORTON: We are NOT dumb, stupid, retarded, or even uneducated. We are a four-letter word. We are D-E-A-F. One big problem we have with communication access is with our family. Do you realize that 90% of us deaf kids are born in a hearing family... And you wonder why having a deaf child who's not socialized with you... If you have a deaf child and you and your family are hearing, you will confront obstacles, because you are not learning American Sign Language. Do you realize 10% of families out there who are hearing with a deaf child learn American Sign Language?
You wonder why we feel disconnected from you. You wonder why we hide ourselves in our rooms. Protecting ourselves from society. You wonder why we fake our emotions just to feel connected. At the lunch table, everybody's laughing, having a good time and the only person, in case you didn't realize, the only person that's not a part of the conversation is your son or your daughter. Sitting down at the table just trying to catch what everyone is saying, trying to catch everybody's lips, only to feel left out. Asking what's going on and everybody only responds with "It's nothing."
Why is it when a deaf child is born the families are typically recommended by doctors a hearing aid or a cochlear implant, not even giving them a chance to experience what it's like to go in a beautiful culture - the Deaf community. Why are we so focused on trying to fix them? We are DEAF. Sometimes we're probably even meant to be! We are NOT "hearing impaired". We don't need to be fixed. We don't need technology to change us. We are who we are. So stop trying to change that.
We have actors, we have artists, celebrities, famous people out there who have achieved greatness! The only reason why you don't know what deaf people are able to do is because you don't want to research it. You're too scared because you don't know how to connect with your kid. You're so focused on the LGBT community - which I'm okay with! We're so focused on race - and yes, that's an issue! But when, after all the politics stuff going on, when will the light be shined on the Deaf community?
We need help. We need our voices. We need our voices and not protests like yours. You get easy access to people above us. We don't because we don't have a nice voice like yours. We need someone to help us out. We just want to speak. I had a retirement opportunity to retire at the age of 24 or 25... But the problem was this. I needed to speak. I had to listen to audios. And they said if I couldn't hear the audios, they couldn't proceed with the next step. And the opportunity was thrown out for me.
Communication. Misunderstandings. People think we're angry... Our language is expressive! Facial expression! When we sign, our body moves! Just like you on the phone, talking with your hands all over the place while you're on the phone. We're similar to you. But you look at our language and you think we're... We're mad. It's actually beautiful! We have sign language in other countries. It's easy to gesture with people out there. Sign language... It's beautiful.
You want to connect with us? You could write. You can text. You can even learn American Sign Language. Through college. Online. With friends. But you have to be motivated to learn about our culture and our community. It's not fair. And I'll be honest, we put in a lot of effort trying to communicate with you. We try to communicate, but you typically don't have the time for us. You have a deaf child, and you're telling me you don't have the time to learn sign language? You don't even have the time for your own kid? They won't have time for you if you can't give them time back. It might sound rude, but that's life. And that's the truth.
So let me tell you something. Sign language is beautiful. Our deafness, our hearing loss, does NOT define who we are. We are DEAF. That's WHAT we are. Not WHO we are. There's a difference. I'll tell you one more thing. This does NOT define THIS. The only thing that defines us, just like you, this. You want something? You want it? Go for it. This does NOT stop you. This is who you are. It's up to YOU to define what it means to be DEAF. And remember, everything is possible.