Thursday, January 2, 2020

Joss Kendrick and her Hearing Loss

There have been rumors for a while that the new American Girl of the Year is hearing impaired.

And here she is, Joss Kendrick!

I am very excited that Joss is hearing impaired. I'm not crazy about her name, her clothes or her hobbies, but I am very excited that she is hearing impaired, like me.

I haven't read her books yet. I definitely will, I just didn't pre-order because I plan to get the doll, who comes with the first book.

I am very hearing impaired. My hearing has been impaired all my life. It has deteriorated as an adult.

Therefore, I have things I would like to share with you about my experience, so you can understand Joss a bit better.

I was discussing Joss with a doll collecting friend, who reminded me that there was a Sweet Valley Middle School book about a deaf character. I loved the Sweet Valley books, but I have forgotten this one.

That book is Won't Someone Help Anna?

My friend shared a summary of the book on this blog: Link

As I read the blog, I fell in love with the quote, "The new girl’s name is Anna Reynolds, and she’s not heroically deaf apparently. She’s just regular f*g deaf."

That's me. I am not heroically deaf. I am just regular f*ing deaf.

I mean, I still hear some things, and I am so grateful for them. 

I can hear the sound of water when I am canoeing or swimming, and I love that.
I can hear crunchy leaves in the fall when I step on them, and I love that.

I can hear voices, usually. I have trouble making out the words.

On the phone, I can no longer hear my sister's voice at all.

Music that I have listened to for years doesn't sound the same. Like in Muppet Treasure Island, there is this song in which the pigs chant "Boom Chochackalacalacka" as Piggy makes an exciting entrance on the back of an elephant. I can hear the drums, and maybe some of the chanting. 

So there are things that are hard about being hearing impaired, and I really hope that AG shows at least some of them in Joss's story.

When I like a song, I have to look up the words and memorize them. I can't hear the words in the music. That seems really relevant to Joss as a cheerleader.

When Joss goes surfing, she has to take her hearing aids out so they aren't damaged.
It would be 100% realistic for someone to call out something to Joss in that situation and she doesn't know what they said.

I don't care how good you are at lip reading or how good your hearing aids are. 
If you are hearing impaired, there is a good chance that at some point you get into a situation where you don't know what the other person is trying to say to you, and it is both embarrassing and painful.

If AG does not show that at least once in Joss's story, I will be disappointed.

I was in speech therapy from kindergarten to eighth grade. I was lucky in that I loved my speech therapist and had fun in that class and didn't mind getting dragged away from my regular class. 
But that doesn't mean that maybe Joss wouldn't be potentially embarrassed at going to speech therapy or feel left out at what her class did while she was away.

I don't speak ASL. People expect me to, but no one ever taught me. And no one I know speaks it, so learning it would not offer me any further opportunities to communicate.
Deaf people are not born with an innate knowledge of ASL. 

It's not heroic being deaf.

It's great that AG is making character hearing impaired. However, it's important to not just do that, but it do it right.

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