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Deaf Identities in the Making:
Local Lives, Transnational Connections|
Cochlear Implants: Curse or Pragmatic Solution?
Until a few years ago, Hilde was also against the use of CI, because she looked upon the option as both a lie that would not deliver what it promised and an attack upon deafness and sign language. She is no longer against it. She explains why she has changed her mind, by means of a little detour:
This “compromising spirit” reflects her position. As a mother, she understands the hearing parents’ dilemmas and the deaf child’s needs. The willingness to compromise is also connected to the dangers of “Deaf extremism,” which she fears will contribute to the drawing of sharper boundaries between the deaf and the hearing worlds, and as such discourage cooperation and reconciliation within mixed families. This is also why she has changed her mind regarding CI. What is in the best interest of the deaf child is what matters for her, she says. The solution is not only a sign language environment, although that is very important, but also the ability to adjust to hearing society if possible. She is furthermore furious when she witnesses the insensitive arguments against CI, which do not cater to the different individual needs and feelings related to the topic. She was thus embarrassed when the secretary general of the Norwegian Association of the Deaf (NDF) argued against CI in public.
Life at Present
Life at present has become quite comfortable for Hilde. She has a job that she loves and a workplace that is perfect for deaf signers. It has been a struggle to come this far, and she is sad when she thinks about all the years in futile search of a hearing identity. There have also been major changes in the field of deafness, which have made life more comfortable and enjoyable. The recent establishment of a professional Sign Language Theatre is symptomatic of these changes, an occurrence that she fully embraces and celebrates. The status of sign language has also improved, both in the schools and in the minds of the hearing majority. Hilde says, “There have been tremendous changes, and now we are fighting to have sign language accepted by law as a separate language, on equal terms with the Saami language.”
This improved status and her new pride in using sign language has also influenced family relations. Before, she often got obscure messages that hinted she was limited in her ability to be a good mother for her hearing children whenever there was a school-related problem. Back then, she partly accepted this.