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The Sickness of Deaf Awareness Week: Imagine A World Without Sound

Its Deaf Awareness Week, and the RNID has excelled itself at being the most patronising and paternalistic deaf organisation on planet earth.

Before I go on, its no secret that I have my reservations about Deaf Awareness Week, but that is the subject of another blog post. However, I would imagine the aim of such a week was supposed to be about deaf people - in whatever form - being accepted and respected in society. To promote equality by changing attitudes.

Or did I get that wrong? It seems so.

So what does the largest deaf organisation in the UK do? Launch a campaign called Imagine A World Without Sound. Before you read on, go and take a look around the website, and judge for yourself. Warning: the video does not contain any subtitles. UPDATE 2: Click the T on the video for subtitles (Thanks Anon).

Take a moment to imagine if you couldn’t hear birdsong at dawn or danger signals in the street, enjoy wonderful sounds like a baby giggling or listen to your favourite music.

Okay, get your violins out. Now. Also reach for your box of tissues. Hearies everywhere drop at the feet of deaf people, and all lets have a communal Wallow In Pity Session.

lionrnid.jpgThe RNID also sends staff dancing around London in fancy dress, subtitling noise. Their innovation never fails to astound.

That organisation needs to be closed down, and fast. I am fed up to the back teeth of some hearing marketers who basically don't have a bloody clue, portraying me and others to the world. And in the process wasting public money, because there is nothing positive about this.

A clueless hearing person viewing that website might take away the following messages:

- I value my hearing
- I need to feel sorry for deaf people
- deaf people can't do XYZ because we don't have people dressed up in fancy dress costume 24/7 to help them
- deafness is a terrible tragedy
- deaf people need help
- sound is important, everything in life hinges on this. Lets rub that in the face of deaf people, your existentialism (or life) is of lesser importance.


And here's me sitting inside on a sunny afternoon, having to spell this out for free to a multi million pound corporation. Whilst hearing people create this spin, and then take home up to £100k salary. That is taking the piss. Veiled as for the benefit of deaf people.

picadillyrnid.jpgThe website also runs a sound competition, in the form of photography.

Capture the sounds you love to hear.

This is not a deaf awareness campaign, this is a hearing awareness campaign. There is nothing "deaf awareness" about this.

I can see how deafened people might latch onto this mentality, but even a deafened friend has said they really do not need this. Deaf and deafened people already exist, as deaf and deafened people. They still need to be respected by those around them, and does this website achieve that? No.

Imagine if an organisation that got funding for black issues ran a campaign: IMAGINE A WORLD WITHOUT WHITENESS, and let their staff loose in the streets in some art form, with white people painted black.

Think about it; this is not a campaign about the benefit of deaf people in society, it is a campaign about how awful deafness is. And furthermore, it is extremely bad timing in a climate where deaf people have been trying to kick back on negative media attitude and spin. Instead a deaf organisation (which churns over £50 million each year) supposedly "helping" us, is actually giving the media and the government a further excuse to oppress.

The entire campaign does nothing but play on people's fears over something they've possibly not experienced before. The issue with this approach is that it does nothing to counteract attitude within society. It goes on to state:

We want [to] .. carry out vital research into deafness and hearing loss.

And the video states:

Your donation could help develop vital treatments to prevent or restore hearing loss.

In other words, medical research for hearing people to get rid of deaf people. Then they provide a DONATE ONLINE button. Sick.

Ask the Readers:
So what do you think of this campaign. Love it or loathe it? Tell us in the comments.

Gwallgofi: Perfecting the Art of Being Deaf
All the Young Dudes: Celebrating Neurological Devastation Week
SignFire: The World Without Sounds - My Entries

North of the Stupid Line: Deaf people, my ass!

All The Young Dudes: Deaf Awareness Week: People of the Lie

Comments (18)

Have watched the video (minus sound as can't hear it and was not aware it was there until GOD pointed it out!) and what it screamed out to me was that the child would not be run over if it has a hearing aid! Having a hearing aid will make it safe! Bad publicity!


But somewhere inside of me there is a small (unsubtitled) voice saying "why am I not surprised?"

I have yet to meet a deaf person who ponders over how much they can or can not hear. Instead, they get frustrated with what they can or can not access.

Why is there an obsession to 'sort out' deaf people when hearing people are the real problem. What about subtitles for overgrown beards or across the back of a tutor's head?

They don't get it, do they.

Surely if these organisations are capable of preaching what being 'deaf' is all about and do a very bad job of it but make loads of money - why can't us Deafies get together and show the world what being deaf is really about - being patronised, patted on the head, doing crap jobs etc...oh sorry I forgot the mainstream media are not interested in us cos we can't speak their language...RANT RANT!!

Interesting , prehaps we should design a website relflecting photographs of when we erm contact the hearing people , with subtitles explaining prehaps the true picture of deafness .. now that would really challenge the RNID. hence thier ponicification of thier righteous hearing world and they are dominating it through thier media channels How sad is that . we are better than you , so we will dominate you through our channels

I really do not think the RNID has thought of us in any way in any manner in this situation . It is so so clear that this is purely a employee paid by the RNID , trying to get a picture of our deafness through thier hearing eyes. This is purely a deaf eye situation We have that special deaf eye , and we will enforce it whether we like it or not , but one thing for sure , a hearing persons eye will NEVER understand a deaf persons eye. You only have to be deaf to understand . Alas, We will enforce our deaf eye and awareness , but for RNID to abuse our deaf eyes and perpective and view point .. thats another matter .

Why doesn't the signing community take up a counter-drive for money with a positivist view?

Theoretically, if the RNID sees their funding draining away, they'll change tactics.

I think RNID are playing to the gallery in order to make even more money out of us. That tells you something about their true priorities - here we have one week in which to promote deaf awareness and we get this money-spinning instead.

So why do they need more money? Is it to help us poor deaf people? RNID accounts show that they have 5 people earning at least £70, 001, one person on at least £80, 001 and another person on at least £100, 001.

Not one of those people are deaf or hard of hearing.

That's what this is all about - using deaf people as a cash cow.

"Warning: the video does not contain any subtitles."

It does, but may not be entirely obvious - click the 'T'

I really like Brendan's idea. The more I thought about those kind of tactics, the more I understood the point. It's not that hearing people are not aware of "deafness".

They are not aware of the experience of being deaf - as you say, not the "not hearing" part so much as the access that could be provided, that's not.

When I set up a simple booth for last year's International Deaf Awareness week, I put some of the technology up on display, and the flyers for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services.

What hearing people need to know (and I am one of them) is:
1. How to interact/communicate.
2. How to make services accessible
3. That deafness doesn't have to mean a person is disabled, it means their hearing is disabled - opening access to communication techniques and technologies can clear that barrier, much like a wider door or lower desk for a wheelchair.

My thoughts as a hearing person.

Thought provoking post. I'll be interested in hearing other ways to make use of Deaf Awareness.

wtf... :/

They are not helping the actual fact, eh?

Time for RNID to wake up and realise that they should focus more on OUR needs. We exists and we need help.

Not for RNID to bugger off to raise money for other uses. They forgot we are here and there are a lot of us here.

As a small child my mother was teaching me about animal sounds. Dogs go "woof", cats go "miaow", cows go "moo", sheep go "baaaa", pigs go "oink" etc.

I wanted to know what sounds rabbits made. Every other animal had a sound so rabbits had to as well. In desperation my mother decided to teach me that rabbits went "mep mep".


The RNId moderator obviously approves of confirming that rabbits go "mep mep" and I just 'can't hear it' in my world without sound.

Now if they were doing useful sounds like squirty cream goes "SCHROWOWOWOWOWOW!" that would stop poor little deafies sneaking into the kitchen in the middle of the night to be caught in the act with up-ended can of cream in hand by their now awoken hearing partner!

So why advertise the RNID on your site lol.... seems you will have to educate google too !

You can filter out the undesirable adverts.

I completely missed deaf awareness week when it happened, (I'm lost without the internet, and just got it this week at my house) but just looked through the site link you posted to the campaign - and honestly I think it's a pretty good campaign and fulfills major RNID objectives.

"This site celebrates the value of sound. By joining in we hope you’ll appreciate the importance of sound too and will make a donation to help us continue our work."

This is the rest of what you quoted, which as far as I have surmised from my own experience defines a major RNID objective which is to help hearing people keep their hearing. The campaign hits on things that hearing people value about their hearing and makes them think about what it would be like to lose it. (A lot of the products RNID offers are to aid in protecting one's hearing.) It creates awareness of what it would be like to have tinnitus or hearing loss and how to protect it and what is on offer for hoh people from RNID. One in Seven magazine I have read a little and it is the same - as far as I can see the actual aims of the RNID are centered more on hearing loss (preventing it) than actual deafness. So if you consider their actions in that light they are acheiving pretty well.

Not that I think any of that ^ is a good thing, nor that it promotes any kind of awareness of Deaf. From my own experience I have found that being Deaf doesn't pose so much of a problem as having to convince hearing people not to run away in fear (oh no, it might be contagious!). Well, what you all said basically. =/

I truly have the same opinion with you concerning this topic. Nice entry. Already bookmarked for future purposes.

Hi! Although the post is one year old, may I translate it to Portuguese? Thanks!

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