Hello there, I hope you are well!
Would you self-identify? Would you wear a button or pin that identifies yourself as having Cerebral Palsy, that you are an amputee, that you are Black, Muslim, Chinese, a Martian, that you are a vegan, that you have thyroid issues, that you suffer from schizophrenia, that you are Deaf.
Sure, everyone is unique in some manner. Most identities are obvious; a person with a white cane is legally blind; a person using a wheelchair has issues with legs, a person sporting a Rolex, while driving a Rolls Royce is obviously affluent.
Some identities carry negative connotations that are best to not be advertised; sexual perversions precisely.
In my teens, I was in a hard of hearing program. The other kids would hide their hearing aids behind clumps of over-moussed hair, trying not to identify as such.
I also recall, in my early 20s, meeting a hard of hearing woman who had a cochlear implant. She mentioned that Deaf people shunned her, and she couldn’t fit into Hearing world either. I wonder what happened to her?
Now, I see many people with Cochlear Implants, and they do not hide their device at all!
For me, yes I would self-identify. Why? Because I have three major disabilities; I am Deaf, I am ataxic, and I am legally blind.
I use a white cane for most outings; which identities me as legally blind. Swish that back and forth, with mirrored sunglasses and walking rapidly; everyone scatters. I can get through a crowd of people like Moses parted the Red Sea!
Then, if someone offers to help, “Are you lost sir?”, some overworked and underpaid mall cop would ask, I would not reply. I couldn’t hear that person in the first place, and two, I am not lost. I know where I am.
Having a button like the one below, that says “I am Deaf-Blind” is ideal, because it right off the bat says I can’t hear you calling me, and I can’t see you. Well, I can see you, but not clearly.
It does not imply that I need help, it does not say “I am Deaf-Blind, I am lost you need to tap my arm to get my attention, help me…”. There are some people who, when they spot a white cane, be over-helpful, right? Are you one? Winks! I’ve said it before; if I need help, I will ask.
In a few weeks or sooner, I will have a new power wheelchair. And I will use that to get around town.
You can bet your fancy pants that people act differently when they see a power chair coming down the sidewalk. They see the person as being mobility impaired, that he or she cannot walk, that the person is able to hear and see just fine.
It will be a challenge for me, because people assume the above; but I am a complex package that Amazon can’t box. I am Deaf-Blind and ataxic.
So, Yes, I will wear, or have prominently displayed, the button saying I am Deaf-Blind. As well, I’ll probably also have handy the one says “I’m Deaf, I sign.” which is very clear. I cannot count the times I’ve told people that I’m DEAF and they would still ramble on like a tap left on.
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