Discrimination and the, um, Differently Abled

Apparently Gallaudet’s incoming president wasn’t “deaf enough” to lead this once-prestigious school for the differently-hearing.

We complain about leadership: good, bad and indifferent. Leaders must be passionate about the cause, but not necessarily of the cause. Sure, it would be great to find a homeless refugee to run the Red Cross; they’d have the real life experience necessary to understand what such people need. MDA? Ditto. Should a blind person be the only qualified president for a school for the blind?

The very nature of the cantankerous debate at Gallaudet shows that, among the deaf, there are different views on the subject of deafness. My cousin wears a cochlear implant, signs and is “mainstream.” Where I work there are some deaf employees that don’t — won’t — speak, but sign instead.

If the students at Gallaudet want to stay in their cave, create a sub-species called “homo sapiens can’t hear the oncoming trafficus” that’s fine. But that institution belongs to all hearing-impaired individuals, not just to ASL bigots.