Saturday, March 16, 2013

Katherine Bouton

Katherine Bouton's new book is Shouting Won't Help: Why I--and 50 Million Other Americans--Can't Hear You.

From her Q & A with Caroline Leavitt:

I loved that you wrote about “talking back to your impairment,” and owning it. Can you talk a bit about that please?

When you lose one of your senses, or the use of a limb, or if you have a mental illness, you tend to identify yourself in terms of that impairment. You say, I'm an amputee. I'm schizophrenic. I'm hearing impaired. The disability comes first, you come second.

But what you learn as you come to terms with the loss is that you're still the person you always were, with an added factor. The politically correct way to refer to someone like me is as a person with hearing loss. That's fine. I am a person, and I do have hearing loss. Advocates for people with hearing loss don't like the term "hearing impaired" and they really don't like deaf. The Deaf (the culturally deaf, who use sign language) don't like the appropriation of the term either. But the fact is that I can't hear a thing without my hearing aid and cochlear implant. I'm deaf.

So I happily use all three: I'm a person with hearing loss, I'm hearing impaired, or I'm deaf, depending on my mood. The first two I use when I'm feeling sorry for myself or ill at ease. "Deaf" I use when I'm comfortable, making light of the situation.

Can you also talk about how writing this book freed you in some way?

I was a champion denier. I told almost no one except close friends that I had hearing loss, and I told my close friends a modified version of the truth. Even my family didn't know. My son transcribed some of the tapes of interviews I did and at one point he said, "Mom, I had no idea what you were going through."

I lost my newspaper job in part because I refused to...[read on]
Visit Katherine Bouton's website and blog, and follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

Read--Coffee with a Canine: Katherine Bouton and Maxie.

--Marshal Zeringue