Davidson Microaggressions Project

Hard of Hearing on Campus

As a Hard of Hearing student I am frequently told things along the lines of, “You do not sound Deaf,” “Wow, I wouldn’t know you are hard of hearing if you had not told me. You must work so hard,” and  “That is so inspiring that you have overcome so get to where you are.” I am also often asked to “try to read my lips,” and “can you take out your hearing aids and then tell me if you can hear me?”  While these microaggressions are annoying and invalidating, others have a truly detrimental impact on my ability to learn and participate, such as the refusal of people at events to wait for the microphone to speak because they will “just speak loud enough.”  One semester I was in 80 person collaborative seminar. After class on the first day I went up to the professors and told them that I could not hear well in the room and it was difficult for me to find sight lines to read lips. I gave an explicit suggestion for a different room. One of the professors told me that the other room would not be better. I was uncomfortable telling him that I knew I would be able to hear better in the other room. Two months later, after several different attempts to make the room we were in work in different ways and getting the accessibility office involved we finally switched to the room I had recommended on day one. At the end of the first class in that room, a student raised their hand and asked if we could always meet in the new room because it was easier to hear. I felt both validated and deflated- If I had been listened to on day one not only would I have had a better learning experience, but so would all of my hearing classmates.