Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Student reacts to a blog post about living as a Deaf Asian Hindu in the United Kingdom

A social justice issue that I am interested in is the disadvantages of the disabled in everyday endeavors, specifically the workforce. Last weekend, I found a blog titled The Limping Chicken, a news site in the UK that shares news of interest to the deaf community. An article by Reema Patel named Growing up Deaf in a Hearing World was posted on March 28, 2012. Patel discusses her struggles as someone with minor hearing loss but also reflects on some solutions for such behaviors.  
Patel’s parents were really conscious of people judging her because she was deaf, so they did not really tell anyone she was deaf unless they it was absolutely necessary. Patel shares with us the three key reasons that she believes deafness is stigmatized in her culture. Born in a British Asian Hindu family, she explains that it is an environment that stigmatizes disability, deafness included. Here is a list of the three reasons and my reaction to her given statement:

1. The cultural bonds that tie people together in her culture are mostly visual and aural. Many rituals and practices consolidate around music, dance, recitation, and other arts.
She shares a story about a blind girl that picked up a minuscule sculpture of a Hindu God and felt around it so she could recognize what she’s touching. Someone immediately snatched it away from her, informing her that it’s a sin to touch a statue in such a way. The young girl only wanted to know what she was touching, she did not mean to offend anyone. The blind and the deaf share these instances of miscommunication across language barriers every day, making them feel excommunicated from the hearing world at times. 

2.  Generally, progressive attitudes towards disability come with greater awareness, education, and more time to reflect/think – the sort of education that many migrant communities don’t often have access to. 
I believe that what she is talking about here is that when someone is disabled in your community or home, it takes awareness, education, and time for reflecting to truly understand and help encourage and lift them to their greatest potential. It seems that people in her community don’t have access to time for this. I’m thinking that maybe in a British Asian Hindu family/community, things can be pretty hectic and some important topics and people can get put on the back burner. 
3. In Patel’s personal opinion, Hinduism has in practice rarely concerned itself with isonomy, social change, and liberalism. The teachings about the caste-system bolster attitudes of ‘knowing one’s place’ in society. They accept the hand life has dealt one as punishment for sins in your previous life.
Not only does her family/community’s culture not support Patel’s disability economically but religiously as well. In /Hinduism, what goes around comes around so if someone was rotten in a previous life, they could be disabled in another. That could make people think that being disabled is just this unbelievably horrible thing that no one can survive because it is marked as punishment for the rotten-spirited. People are surviving and thriving through their disabilities every day and being fabulous while doing so. 

Patel’s perspective on the stigmatization of disabilities in her community reminds me a lot of how the world does the same. One topic she did not cover that I thought would be an amazing addition to her article is assimilation. Social norms and institutions try to create things to help the disabled become “more like us” instead of creating things to help them be a better THEM. Patel offers three solutions for obliterating the perception that disabled persons, especially the deaf, are less likely to be successful. One, to provide the support to children that lets them challenge the perception themselves. Two, to provide a supportive environment that encourages self-worth and confidence. And three, to provide the right funding to open doors and opportunities. She believes that if these things are given, as they deserve to be, then they will be able to show and prove that they can be just as successful as anyone else, even more so. 

Works Cited

Patel, R. (2012, March 28). Reema Patel: Growing up deaf in a hearing world [Web log post]. Retrieved February 15, 2017, from

No comments: