In my last post, and maybe others in the past, I’ve used a metaphor that may have been unclear. It involves my idea of some words that I try to avoid as stemming from a “glass-half-empty” approach to thinking about hearing. I think we should always be describing one’s abilities from a “glass-half-full” approach. Here’s my explanation.
Imagine you have a water glass (you don’t have to imagine, there’s a picture just below). The water represents hearing ability and the air above represents hearing impairment. The level of the top of the water can be considered a person’s hearing level. Now some people might have a glass of water filled right to the brim, but many people have at least a little bit of space at the top of the glass. Some of us, like myself, have a lot more air in our glass relative to water. But should that be what we focus on?
I don’t think so. I think we should focus on the amount of water in our glass, not air. Let’s try to use phrases like “What’s your hearing ability like?” instead of “How much hearing loss do you have?” Instead of saying “I’m deaf,” we could say “I wear hearing aids to help me hear.” I think there are a lot of things that can, and should, be reframed from a perspective of ability not disability.
(I think this metaphor could be extended to include hearing aids and other devices. Maybe they would be rocks placed in the water glass? They don’t replace hearing ability completely, but they help raise the amount we are capable of hearing. I don’t know though, this metaphor is stretched pretty far already.)