Seeing The Matrix: Audism



For those who haven’t taken the red pill yet, please see my previous blog post in this blog series. Caution: this blog post is heavily technical, but I feel it’s necessary to understand my following posts. The next blog posts will be in layman terms, I promise!

Audism as defined by Dr. Tom Humphries is the notion that one is superior based on one’s ability to hear or behave in the manner of one who hears.”

As all other words, audism has also evolved in its definition, to reflect the institutionalization of audism. Dr. Harlan Lane wrote, “..the corporate institution for dealing with deaf people, dealing with them by making statements about them, authorizing views of them, describing them, teaching about them, governing where they go to school and, in some cases, where they live; in short, audism is the hearing way of dominating, restructuring, and exercising authority over the deaf community. It includes such professional people as administrators of schools for deaf children and of training programs for deaf adults, interpreters, and some audiologists, speech therapists, otologists, psychologists, psychiatrists, librarians, researchers, social workers, and hearing aid specialists.”

I personally believe that both definitions are accurate, and I will try to prove to you how these definitions are accurate. I am also going to put forth the radical proposition that audism is a product of the Matrix, but it also has become part of the Matrix. Not only that, but there’s more than one Matrix!

Call me crazy, but let’s look at the premises and see if enough of us can agree on these premises or not. So, what is the Matrix? Unfortunately, at this current stage of our human evolution, we cannot directly see the Matrix. But we can indirectly by stepping outside of ourselves, and looking within. More specifically, looking within our minds.

Our minds are poorly understood, but that doesn’t mean it’s not understood at all. There’s a process of our minds that is called schema (schemata is the plural), and that processing helps us collect and organize our knowledge so we can retrieve it later on. I quote from the linked wiki: Schemata are an effective tool for understanding the world. Through the use of schemata, most everyday situations do not require effortful processing— automatic processing is all that is required. People can quickly organize new perceptions into schemata and act effectively without effort. For example, most people have a stairway schema and can apply it to climb staircases they’ve never seen before.

Now, since we human beings are imperfect, our schemata is as well. Without adequate information and knowledge, our schemata takes shortcuts and lumps information into categories, without making any further distinctions, and/or making sub-categories. This is a key way of how stereotypes and prejudices come to be. Every single human being has biases and stereotypes. If they tell you that they don’t, they’re lying.

There is another factor in how our minds work, and that is the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis, also known as the Linguistic Relativity Principle. The basic concept of this theory is that our languages influence our thoughts and behavior. Hence, a person who uses English will think and behave differently than someone who uses Spanish, etc. To what extent language influences our thoughts and behavior is questioned, but nowadays academics agree it does have some effect.

This ties in well with the concept of schemata and I believe this article from Newsweek provides the perfect illustration of this: In Australia, the Aboriginal Kuuk Thaayorre use compass directions for every spatial cue rather than right or left, leading to locutions such as “there is an ant on your southeast leg.” The Kuuk Thaayorre are also much more skillful than English speakers at dead reckoning, even in unfamiliar surroundings or strange buildings. Their language “equips them to perform navigational feats once thought beyond human capabilities,” Boroditsky wrote on

If we have the proper words for something, a concept or an object, we understand it better and are able to react accordingly. This answers the question that was raised on the v/blogs of why the word audism should be used instead of merely using the words discrimination or oppression. Once we have a word for a specific kind of discrimination, the better we can start understanding it, therefore being better able to work around our faulty schemata that causes us to have biases and stereotypes.

Now, obviously language is not individualistic. It is a driving force of a culture, as a matter of fact. This leads to the theory of social constructionism. From Wikipedia: A social construction (social construct) is a concept or practice that is the creation (or artifact) of a particular group. … Social constructs are generally understood to be the by-products of countless human choices rather than laws resulting from divine will or nature.

A major focus of social constructionism is to uncover the ways in which individuals and groups participate in the creation of their perceived social reality. It involves looking at the ways social phenomena are created, institutionalized, and made into tradition by humans. Socially constructed reality is seen as an ongoing, dynamic process; reality is reproduced by people acting on their interpretations and their knowledge of it.

So what does all of this mean? It means, my dear friends, essentially as Walt Kelly said in his comic strip, Pogo, “We have met the enemy … and he is us.”

We are prisoners of our own creation, the Matrixes.


In the next post, all of this is broken down in layman terms, and the issue of horizontal and reverse audism is addressed, in addition to my theory of how to free yourself from the Matrixes.

About A Deaf Pundit

A Deaf Pundit holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Public & Nonprofit Administration. In her spare time, she enjoys fantasy novels, gaming and wandering the vast Deaf social media world. View all posts by A Deaf Pundit

51 responses to “Seeing The Matrix: Audism

  • J.J.

    Just out of curiosity…did you catch the Matrix, Reloaded, and Revolutions on MTV over the weekend?

    As analogies go…I think Battlestar Galactica would be a better one, but that’s just me. 🙂

  • A Deaf Pundit

    No, I didn’t! I didn’t even know about that. I have the DVD set, that includes the Animatrix, The Roots of the Matrix, The Burly Man Chronicles, and the Zion Archives… So I just watch these dvds when I’m in the mood. 🙂

    I haven’t watched the Battlestar Galactica… I should, though!

  • kim

    OOO! I LOVE this post. When I was taking ASL, it floored me how a Deaf person could express in two signs what it took an English speaking person literally ten words to express. Expressing oneself visually requires a mind shift, especially if you’ve grown up using words. English speaking also use words creatively, which tends to promote evolution of word meaning. A modern example is the word ‘google’ which began as a noun, but recently became a verb. English changes so quickly, dictionaries can hardly keep up. Word meaning can take on subtleties a non-Native speaker will pick up on, and I think the same is true of ASL.

  • Dianrez

    This is a first for me…an intellectual parable to explain how habit and convention forms our thoughts about being deaf. The Matrix is such a parable that can be applied to many different situations, not just in the Deaf community.

    For most readers, your next article will be more meaningful, I suspect. In everyday lay terms especially for those who didn’t quite get the parable in the Matrix, it will be really interesting.

    However, what you have put forth is a social theory equal to that of Deafhood as proposed by Paddy Ladd. Will your idea also become the next controversy? (meant half-seriously!)

  • A Deaf Pundit

    *grins at Dianrez* Actually, most of what Paddy Ladd says, I believe, is accurate. I also think there’s a lot of misunderstanding about what he’s saying, because his book is hard to understand and not enough have read it either. So…

    And thanks, Kim and Dianrez! Glad you like my post. 🙂

  • Anne Marie

    I never though about just use the word audism instead of needing to rely on this overused, broadly defined word discrimination. If the word audism is finally more appropriately well defined for different situations, it would be more precise and extending schemata in this sense. Yes!

    I think the definition needs more work to point out that it is more consciously intended not naivety.

  • A Deaf Pundit

    Anne Marie,

    There were some commenters several blog posts back (on here), and some even blogged about it, that we should toss the word audism because it was overused and abused. So that’s why I addressed that issue in this blog post.

    And I agree with you 100%, the definition of audism still needs more work, to convey that it is usually consciously intended.

    I also think we need to come up with a sub-definition of audism, to address the matter of reverse, horizontal and reverse horizontal audism. That has not been defined yet by academics, which needs to change sometime soon, in my opinion.

    As you said, it would be more precise and extending schemata, yes! 🙂

  • Dianrez

    My take on “audism”: the original definition as proposed by Humphries and expanded upon by Lane should be the accepted ones.

    Misusing the word or modifying it can make the word meaningless. The original meanings need to be repeated every time it is confused in use until we all recognize it as a well-defined, exactly descriptive word with a meaning everyone knows.

    Lets not permit altering it in any way including adding sub-definitions. Also to be discouraged is any usage of the word against deaf people; it is intended for hearing people who apply hearing standards inappropriately against deaf people whether thoughtless or intentional.

    Prohibition on deaf drivers–audism
    Not hiring deaf people because of telephone usage in large companies–audism
    Not providing sign interpreters at large venues affecting deaf people–audism
    Choosing hearing family members to manage affairs instead of deaf members–audism.
    Not captioning widely disseminated Internet information videos–audism
    Police tasering a deaf man because they cannot communicate–audism

    Some of the above may be unintentional or careless, but the definition of audism applies and the effect is the same. Substitute “black” for “deaf” and the word easily becomes racism and the definition is parallel.

    Those other definitions need to be words recognizably different from “audism”. Deaf adoption of hearing norms, deaf on deaf oppression, cultural friction, clique behavior, cultural enforcement, etc. Leave “audism” alone and it can become a useful, powerful word that can bring down an established wrong as the word “racism” effectively does.

  • A Deaf Pundit


    I agree with you. Apparently I wasn’t clear enough in what I said to Anne Marie, and I apologize for that.

    Let me give you an example that might help. There is a term, colorism which describes black on black racism. Horizontal racism.

    When I said sub-definitions, I also really meant that we need to come up with new words and further definition to describe horizontal, reverse and reverse horizontal audism.

    Does this make sense?

  • Ann_C

    I understand you, dianrez, in that audism should be used only against hearing persons/ institutions that discriminate against the deaf.

    The prob is, the word “audism” itself, is not easily recognizable or is confused with “autism” in the hearing world. It’s not a word recognized yet by the legal system in this country. “Discrimination against the d/Deaf” IS a term that hearing people and jurists will understand, at least the word “discrimination” is recognized in courtrooms all over the country.

    Until the deaf community defines audism for what it is, once and for all, and rightly applies this word consistently to discriminative actions by the hearing (and I don’t mean people who are oral or wear C.I.’s and speak, here, I do mean HEARING) against d/Deaf persons or the deaf community, the word “audism” has no meaning. And the courts will continue to reject the term on account of too many interpretations of this word. Does this make sense?

  • A Deaf Pundit


    Audism isn’t easily recognizable because the Deaf Community and Culture just has begun accepting the term. It’s unreasonable to expect that the hearing world will recognize this easily when we’re just starting to ourselves!

    As for the courts, they don’t accept the word, racism or any other -ism. They only accept phrases like “gender-based discrimination”; “racial-based discrimination”, and so forth.

    Formal legal terms are different than terms that we use within the larger society and culture.

  • Kim

    I’m laughing. You can’t keep people from adding meanings or changing meanings of words, or even using them correctly. Language continually changes. I love the study of words. Did you know the word “clown” meant idiot at one time?

  • gamas

    Yeah, if the courts don’t accept racism, or any isms then they wouldn’t accept audism.

    I just always have felt that we do not need a special discrimination or oppression based word for deaf people. As we have seen how it complicates things even more.

    Good luck trying to find a definition that everyone can agree on and we’ll see if it will continue to be abuse as it always have. My bet is that it will be abused as it has in the past.

    I know how deaf people are, I just can’t see this word being used in harmony.


    Anyway, still waiting for the climax of this series…the third post. Will see how it all ties in together and whether I still need to take the red pill. Why red? no blue pill? 😉

  • gamas

    uh oh…. I meant, “whether I would consider” not “still need” to take the red pill.

  • A Deaf Pundit


    I still don’t fully understand why you don’t think we need a specific word. It does complicate things. That’s why people resist this at the beginning.. it requires work to overcome their schemata.

    And by your logic, we might just as well stick with discrimination, period.

    No specific word for discrimination based on the color of a person’s skin, gender, disability, religion, national origin, sexual orientation.

    That would definitely simplify things, wouldn’t it?

    As for the blue pill – it was already indirectly offered in the blog post by walking away and not reading it. 😉

  • Dianrez

    I love words and their history, too, fascinating that “clown” meant “idiot” at one time. Makes sense!

    Yes, if the meaning of a new word keeps shifting, we lose it effectively unless people make an effort to keep its original or its most useful and recognizable meaning. If -isms are not accepted in court systems, that should be enough–from now on it’s discrimination. Audism still has its uses within our circles, though, so we will still be seeing it a while.

  • gamas


    Ahh, very funny, re the blue pill. I was joking, ya know.

    You’re right, it would simplify things, no specific word for discrimination based on all that. What would be your logic to have specific word for discrimination? What purpose would it serve?

    You did say that if we had a proper word for something, we’d understand it better and react better. I just don’t see it. When we had discrimination and/or oppression at our disposal it wasn’t as abused as audism. So, by understanding audism better, it is supposed to help us react better?? I’m not convinced.

  • gamas

    Keep in mind, I do like to use and play around with new words and I do see its usefulness in its use in writing. It’s not like I’m resisting new words all the time. It is just that audism has been used to berate people and in the end it hurt many.

  • WAD

    Good post. I have not called you crazy yet. Anyway, I recommend this book by John Medina: Brain Rules. It covers interesting and scientific perspectives on how our brain works.

  • A Deaf Pundit


    I see where the problem is now. Okay – first of all, it wouldn’t really simplify things in the long run.

    While the legal system uses the word discrimination, and not the -isms, the way the attorneys and judges interpret and understand things are NOT simple. That’s why there’s 4 years of pre-law, then 3 years of law school. A good portion of it is studying specifically on what each legal word exactly means, so when attorneys argue before the judge, everyone knows exactly what that legal word means. Obviously that’s not the only thing they study in pre-law and law school, but that is one aspect.

    So I was really being sarcastic when I said it would really simplify things, wouldn’t it?

    Secondly, yes, audism has been used to berate people and hurt them. You could argue the same for racism and sexism. But I don’t see people advocating for the elimination of these words. Anything can be abused and misused. It’s all about how we use them, and that has a lot to do with our schemata and social constructs. Our inserting value judgments is part of our schemata and social construct process. That’s where problems arise.

  • A Deaf Pundit

    I just had a discussion with someone offline about the word discrimination itself, and I have to modify my argument, because it clarifies some things. It doesn’t invalidate my argument completely, though.

    Now, here’s a simple analogy. Sexism. One person can be sexist legally – having the thought that one gender group is superior to another gender group, and express that opinion. But unless s/he uses sexism in hiring practices, housing, and so forth.. *Acting* upon their sexist beliefs, is discrimination, and that’s where the legal system can get involved.

    If someone says something that is sexist, such as, “I had a woman who taught physics, and she was horrible. So I’m never taking another physics class that has a female teaching it.”

    You can accuse that person of being sexist, but you can’t take them to court over it, because by their standards, that isn’t discrimination.

  • Don G.

    Jeannette —

    YES! Words do help define or explain our reality. When we have a specific word to describe oppression against Deaf people, it helps us to organize our perceptions and recognize what is happening when it is happening. That is why we need the word “audism”.

    I find the arguments that the courts don’t recognize “isms” and that the word “audism” sounds too much like “autism” to be specious. Courts do recognize racism, sexism, anti-semitism, and on and on. As for the similar sounds, English is FULL of words that sound ALMOST the same (or exactly the same, like Bear and Bare) — yet, you don’t see anybody advocating that one or other of these words be discarded or changed.

    As for Deaf/Deaf “oppression”, we need to remember that a lot of these behaviors come from the years of oppression/colonialism by Hearing people — we internalized many of the attitudes but instead of taking our collective frustrations out on the oppressors (Hearing), we take it out on ourselves instead. This same phenomenon happens in other oppressed communities, like the Black community, or countries that were colonized by White nations.

    Will look forward to seeing how you apply the Matrix analogy further.

  • observer

    There is already a phrase to describe Deaf/Deaf oppression – “dysconscious audism” coined by Genie Gertz in her doctoral dissertation. She wrote an article about it that appears in the book “Open Your Eyes” by Dirksen Bauman. (Amazon link here:

    I agree with Dianrez – the two original definitions, along with Bauman’s definition that includes the metaphysical state of being oppressed, suffice. I know language changes and evolves, but let’s get people on the same page first about what audism means. THEN the definition can evolve naturally if need be.

  • Karen Mayes

    I see that your posting mean differently to each commenter, which is expected, but you also provide an opportunity for us to look carefully and see how the word audism evolved, especially in this 21st century.

    Good posting… as usual.


  • kim

    Observer– I don’t see how it is possible to get people on the “same page” without it being in an official dictionary. The reason it isn’t in any English dictionaries is because audism is not considered an English word. One culture cannot add it’s own words to another culture’s language. Normally words are added to a dictionary after they’ve been in usage by the mainstream speakers of that language for awhile. People who speak English don’t use that word.

    This is a good reason why Deaf need to come up with their own dictionary. I am not denying that audism is a word, but it isn’t an English word.

  • A Deaf Pundit

    Other cultures adopt other cultures’ words all the time. The English language has Latin words, and several other languages’ words in it.

    It’s just that the Deaf Community itself is still struggling to understand audism, so it can’t really become mainstream until a critical mass within the community accepts it.

    And sure, it is an English word – it’s just not official or accepted by the mainstream yet.

  • kim

    DP– Right, but the difference is that these words came into the language through mainstream use of English speakers, not through Latin use.

    Take the word taco. I can tell you that people didn’t eat tacos in the pacific northwest in the early 1960s. No one knew what a taco was. People in the southwest may have eaten them, but there were no fast food taco places until the 60s, and they didn’t spread to the northwest until the late 60s. Then people began eating them and most knew what a taco was, but it was considered an ethnic food and the word was a ‘Mexican’ word. Now it is our English dictionary, probably because places like Jack-In-The-Box started serving them. It wasn’t considered an English word for a long time, even though Mexicans used the word, and some Americans used it. Tacos were not common until Taco Bell and Taco Time.

  • A Deaf Pundit

    So it’s a matter of a chicken or the egg question. It can’t become mainstream until a critical mass starts using that word, but then how can we get a critical mass?

  • gamas

    Let’s suppose everyone agrees on a definition for the word audism, it will still be abused. What if someone actually sees that listening and spoken is preferable to ASL and he/she promotes it? What if someone advocates for CI and sees it much more logical option, advocates that CI is a better option than ASL , and give examples that shows ignorance? What if someone feels that ASL is detrimental to English? We can throw in more examples. These are personal views which reflects the choices that people make,even after exploring all options. Are there any guarantee that these people will not be called an audist? They’re not audist.

    I like Cobi Sewell’s latest video that showed that we are all human beings. Respect is what is needed regardless of views.

    Discriminations do happen and we have laws on the books that protects us.

    If we move on and show the world that we’re a cool group of cultured people, more will see the truth and the message itself will take care of things. Calling someone an audist isn’t going to change the person, so why bother?

    Again, the question is even if we all are on the same page (which I doubt will happen) HOW will the word Audism be used? DP, what do you hope to see the word itself become in the deaf world? Why is it soooo important to have labels when it does nothing but create chaos. What is the logic behind it? How will it help deaf people? Will it change views by the hearings towards deaf? will it change how the extreme deafies and the moderate deafies treat each other? The word itself will not change people, but our successes will.

    We need to be a good role model, so that we can make the world a better place for all. Right now, what is being witnessed online paints an ugly picture of the deaf community.

    Anyway, I will wait until I see your final posting (if you intend to make it a three series) and go from there.

  • gamas

    If it was just any other word, who knows… Any word but ISMS is fine.

  • A Deaf Pundit


    Did you read this blog post at all? Did you even read my comment where I said ANYTHING can be abused? That it depends on HOW you use it? That it depends on the value judgments you assign to it?

    I agree with you that calling someone an audist isn’t going to help. But you know what I’m seeing here? I’m seeing people too busy talking over each other, to even to listen to what the other person has to say. I see people not bothering to even explain and clarify what they mean.

    And … most of all, I see people reacting out of fear. Hence all of the shouting and labeling at each other.

  • A Deaf Pundit

    And one more thing, Gamas…

    It’s one thing to advocate for something, and it’s another to attempt to impose your will on someone else through various means such as deceit, leaving out information, and willful ignorance. That is NOT respectful of our fellow human beings.

  • Jean Boutcher

    Dianrez writes in #8:

    “…but the definition of audism applies and the effect is the same. Substitute “black” for “deaf” and the word easily becomes racism and the definition is parallel.”

    If I understnd you correctly, you refer audism strictly to hearing people only in this regard. I would, therefore, suggest that you correspond with both Humphries and Lane concerning audism. If I am wrong, I would respectfully stand corrected and would, therefore, ask you to disregard the next paragraph. 😀

    In my email in the eary 2000s, I asked Humphries and Lane if they referred audists and audism to hearing people only. In their reply, audism was explicityly referred to BOTH hearing people and deaf people. In turn, I asked them if I could coin a term, “deaf proteges of audists”
    or “audists’ deaf proteges”. Unhesitantly, they agreed with my coined term. I shared the exhange of the notes with members of a university professor’s list, “Deaf-L” (now defunct).

  • A Deaf Pundit

    *nods to Jean* The definition of racism and sexism refers both to the dominant and subordinate groups as well.

    I’m taking a course right now this semester, and if not for that course, I would not have understood this whole debate better, ironically. But anyway, from my textbook (Racial & Ethnic Groups, 11th Ed. by Richard T. Schaefer) … Racism is defined as “a doctrine that one race is superior.”

    That’s the short definition (on page 15).

    On the same page they explain further. “If race does not distinguish humans from one another biologically, why does it seem to be so important? It is important because of the social meaning people have attached to it. …

    Adolf Hitler expressed concern over the “Jewish race” and translated this concern into Nazi camps. Winston Churchill spoke proudly of the “British race” and used that pride to spur a nation to fight. Evidently, race was an useful political tool for two very different leaders in the 1930’s and 1940’s …

    No one disagrees that people differ in temperament, potential to learn, and sense of humor. In its social sense, race implies that groups that differ physically also bear distinctive emotional and mental abilities or disabilities. These beliefs are based on the notion that humankind can be divided into distinct groups. We have already seen the difficulties associated with pigeonholing people into racial categories. Despite these difficulties, belief in the inheritance of behavior patterns and in an association between physical and cultural traits is widespread. It is called racism when this belief is coupled with the feeling that certain groups or races are inherently superior to others. Racism is a doctrine of racial supremacy, stating that one race is superior to another.”

    Note they didn’t say racism means whites think they’re superior over blacks. It’s very clear in this definition that anyone, including those in the minority groups, can be racist, and it’s all about HOW you use the definition!

  • gamas

    Yes, I read the blog, the links and read the other people’s comment and that was my conclusion. It kind of felt like a bit of a waste trying to keep the word audism alive, in my opinion. But, that’s just me. I’m sure I’m not the only one that feels this way. How was I imposing my will on others and where is this “deceit” you’re implying I’m guilty of? Leaving out information? Not sure I follow you, I’m sure I did no such thing. It was simply my view after reading it all and giving it so much thought.

  • gamas


    OTOH you could be insinuating a scenario commonly seen in the deaf blogosphere, which I will agree, does happens. Either way, you’re not clear on whether you’re talking about me or that. 🙂 Don’t you think isms in general is nothing but trouble? I do. I just felt that when it comes to your trying to use schemata as a way to say that audism is not something we readily accepted is just an easy way to dismiss the real reason for people not accepting that word. I think it’s much more than schemata. A new word that isn’t controversial wouldn’t be that way. Isms tend to be an indoctrination of some sort. In this case, I think it is. But, if it ever does become accepted by the critical mass, I’m not going to protest, I’ll just let it be.

  • Mel

    DP… I knew that book seemed familiar…. so i took a look at the books I took at Baker.

    Aha! Same book! Yes, I took that course last year.

    Yes, very good book in my opinion and I learned a lot in that course. I really enjoyed that course with classmates of diverse backgrounds sharing their experiences and applying the concepts/theories from the book to their lives as well as trying to understand others.

    Ahem, there is a tiny section somewhere about JKF not being selected due to not being deaf enough. 😉

    Back to topic…. I’m not sure if I took the red or blue pill…. how bizarre is that?

    Anyway….back to my own little matrix or non-matrix world. 🙂

    Good discussion going on….sorry I can’t be part of it but I’ll catch up when i can. (Just so you know lurkers do exist, smile)

  • A Deaf Pundit

    Gamas, okay. I really think you need to look at this page I created. This was created as a result of a discussion that Linda and I had a couple of blog posts ago.

    Right now, I’m just way too pissed off to comment any further, so I’m going to cool off first.

  • Dianrez

    That’s fascinating that Humphries and Lane both agreed that “audism” could be used to describe Deaf people thinking that hearing is superior to deaf. I recognize that as technically accurate and that it exists.

    However, I’d never apply “audist” to other d/Deaf people because that would be like Black people applying “racist” to one another. It’s divisive. It closes the door on interpersonal collaboration. It raises emotional reactions unnecessarily and unproductively. It casts out people that we need to keep in the circle.

    It’s more useful to limit it to describe behavior of the larger Hearing majority that impacts us and causes some of us to inwardly accept it in a suppressed reaction. That way its poisonous influence can be more easily recognized and brought to public attention.

    Deaf people who exhibit audistic behaviors are in the minority and don’t have the great influence that Hearing people have. As such, they can be ignored as we work on the bigger problem and when audism is finally eliminated, so will the audistic feelings of these few go away. It’s like a shadow the the real problem– one disappears, so does the other.

  • kim

    DP–We have the critical mass if you count oral deaf and late-deafened.
    So the question is. . . Is it ‘audism’ if it’s discrimination based on hearing loss? Or does audism only apply to discrimination based on language?

  • gamas

    Listen, obviously you had these tenets outlined in hopes that others will follow on your blog which I was not aware of until you pointed it out. It’s your site and I guess I’m too opinionated for your blogsite. I wasn’t criticizing anyone and I do have reservations about that word and have pretty much reached a conclusion of my own after so much thought on this topic which I expressed. However, I stand corrected in that I did not: “impose my will on someone else through various means such as deceit, leaving out information , and willful ignorance” Soooo, out of respect for you and your blogsite and the tenets you set up, I shouldn’t be commenting here then, because I’ll be messing up the ethics of communication that you want to see happen here. You should remind people to check that page before every controversial topic.

  • Linda Slovick

    > And I agree with you 100%, the definition of audism still
    > needs more work, to convey that it is usually consciously
    > intended.

    I don’t think that dysconscious audism is often intended… Have you ever had other deaf people find out that you are deaf, too, and have it immediately lower their estimate of your intelligence?

    Have you ever had a deaf friend double-check what you said with somebody hearing? …tell you that it’s a “hearing world” so what you want or need should not be expected?

    While I agree that audism from the hearing world is often consciously intended right now (it is still acceptable to think of us as less capable because we do not hear), I believe there was also a time when racism was generally consciously intended. After a while, all these conscious choices became a form of institutional racism, which no longer needed to be entirely conscious, because it became so natural as to be enforced by law and custom. It was a given; a sort of racial “matrix” of thinking of how things “should” be.

    As consciousnesses started to be raised, blatant racism became less tolerated, but did not go away… It became increasingly subtle, increasingly denied by those with white privilege.

    For some, this was because they were TRYING to be better people, but it is SO MUCH MORE DIFFICULT to see privileged status that YOU have (you have just been smart, lucky or blessed) than privileged status that others have, but you do not (Hey! I am smart, too! This is NOT FAIR!).

    Oppressed see the unequal dynamics of the situation more clearly than oppressors, but oppressors have more power to change that situation, but have neither motivation, nor accurate assessment of more general harm done, hence a status quo remains established.

    An established status quo that is harmful, but cannot be challenged, may very well be a matrix. Is that anything like what you mean?

    “A right delayed is a right denied” – MLK

    But only in later times of more subtle racism (audism?):
    “Lukewarm acceptance is more bewildering than outright rejection” – MLK

    The change in the appearance of the racisim matrix predicts a similar “bewildering” change to the audism matrix, as blatant audism starts to be more openly questioned, but morphs rather than just going away.

    That said, I do not believe that everything that LOOKS like audism really is. Something can look like audism, but be another kind of discrimination. Something can BE audism, but not be intended. In that situation, maybe it will be SEEN as intended, causing even further harm. Finally, there are those situations that LOOK like audism, because audism has happened there so many times in the past…

    Like if somebody asks you, then asks a hearing friend, not because they think you are dumb, but because they have this one really smart friend who happens also to be hearing….

    Sorry for where I am probably somwhat off topic, but this is all I can see so far…

    Waiting for the next installment, as I can see that you are preparing to take us somewhere, but cannot quite yet see where that is.

    Still a fun journey, tho!

    – Linda

  • Linda Slovick

    Also, I’m not sure you accept the existence of “dysconscious audism”, so let me put in a plug for acceptance of that idea from Humphries’ original definition:

    “the notion that one is superior based on one’s ability to hear OR BEHAVE IN THE MANNER OF ONE WHO DOES.” (emphasis mine)

    If you need to behave as other than who you are to feel accepted, that other is more highly valued, right? You, as you are, would be valued less by anybody believing this… Including you…

  • A Deaf Pundit


    It’s both. For instance, the stereotype is that hearing people don’t sign in public – only deaf people do. So when you’re signing in public, that shows you are deaf. And that can lead others to make audisitic comments or behave audistically while not discriminating, or flat out discriminate against you.

    Here’s a personal example. Years ago, I was out at a restaurant with my mother and her deaf friend. My mother is hearing, but signs fluently. So the three of us were conversing purely in ASL – voice off. Then we noticed a woman at the next booth giving us dirty looks. Every time she looked over, the length of her stare would increase, and the more apparent her disgust was. Then my mother heard this woman mutter under her breath about us in a nasty tone. She couldn’t catch *all* of what the woman was saying, but it was obvious that the woman was disturbed that there were deaf people in the restaurant signing.

    So finally all 3 of us stared back, returning the dirty look. Pretty soon after that, she left the restaurant.

    It doesn’t happen as often today, thankfully… but it does still happen.


    I apologize for not reminding people to check that page first before having a dialogue here. I assumed that you saw it before, because you left comments on that previous blog post.


    You’re getting what I’m saying. 🙂

  • kim

    Here’s an example. I was at work and a guy asked me something without looking at me. I told him to please face me because I’m deaf and need to read lips. His response, “Oh Gawd. DEAF? What are you doing working HERE then??” I would call this discrimination based on my deafness, but it has nothing to do with the language I speak. Is it audism??”

  • A Deaf Pundit

    Yes, that is definitely audism.

  • Linda Slovick

    Oh, yeah… BLATANT audism.

  • Jean Boutcher

    Deaf Pundit,

    You may, if you so desire, examine books related to deaf issues. If you find some theory in a book refuteable, you can write in any form of shape such as an article, a book, or a dissertation . A number of dissertations in the Library of Congress submitted by doctorate candidates refuting / debunking some authors’s theories are legion. For exampe, Dr. Woodward used “PSE”. Someone else read it later and, after examining it, refuted “PSE” and changed it to “Signed Engish.”


    You wrote “dysconscious audism” in #43. Who wrote it? Who published it? I would like to read it. Thanks.

  • A Deaf Pundit


    I have many, many books on deaf issues. One and half full bookshelves full of ’em. Just to name a few, I have Paddy Ladd’s book, the Mask of Benevolence autographed by Harlan Lane (I met him years ago when he came to MI to give a presentation and he signed the book).

    I even have Stokoe’s book, Sign and Culture. I’m not lacking for books. I’m just lacking a Bachelor’s degree right now. After I graduate I just might write a few books of my own. 🙂

    Hopefully my 3rd and final post will be up either tomorrow evening, or Saturday morning.

  • Linda Slovick

    Hi Jean!

    I first read about it in the book, _Open_Your_Eyes_Deaf_Studies_Talking_, Chapter 13, pp 219-234, “Dysconscious Audism: A Theoretical Proposition” by Dr. Genie Gertz.

    – Linda

  • Former Audist ‹^--^-› ‹(•¿•)› ‹^›

    I think both hearing and deaf people are “audism” in various ways.

    How about “visualism”? ASL group of signers oppressing non-ASL signers?

    Auditory oppression — at work, I know my colleagues pay more attention to articulated smooth talker Harvard graduate dude (who happens to have great speaking skill but don’t know how to take actions) than those who have trouble expressing themselves clearly

    There are plenty of post-lingual deaf people oppressing pre-lingual deaf people in this world in an auditive ways and visual ways.

    It seems like it is a dog eats dog world out here…

    I enjoy passing my time and drinking wine while reading this blog. Keep up the good works!

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