Advantages of A Disadvantage
There it was again, the common frantic hand wave and the mouth wording ‘A-LA-NA’ very clearly, but with no sound coming out. This is the common (and what is thought most effective) method people use to get my attention--that is, once they find out I’m deaf. Since birth, I have been completely deaf and need to wear cochlear implants (I actually lost my hearing when I was just 4 weeks old in my mother’s belly). Now, before you’re quick to categorize my deafness as a drawback, know that although there are the traditional disadvantages with which a deaf person must cope with, there are also several advantages and benefits that result from being deaf; many of which people with hearing don’t realize. Someone once quoted: “Many great opportunities arrive as obstacles.” I believe my hearing is not much different.
As many may not realize, there are actually several benefits that come from being deaf, some are apparent, and others are hidden. An example of an apparent one is being able to control hearing in terms of volume. For example, at the moment, there is a new building being built beside my home. The noise created by the construction is loud, irritating, and constant. Sounds of hammering, the drill, and shouting among the men are frequently heard throughout my quiet apartment. However, unlike my sister and father who have no choice other than tolerate the sounds, I can simply take off my hearing and have a peaceful nap without any distractions or focus on my schoolwork. This is one benefit I take advantage of as a deaf person.
As a deaf person, I’ve been motivated to work hard (I believe much harder than I would have if I had normal hearing). This is because being aware of my deafness, I realize that I have a challenge, and need to give myself a push, and sometimes I push myself past the success level of other normal hearing students, which for me, is a huge achievement. An example is assuring myself I’ve received all important and necessary information. For instance, I believe it is a common fear for all deaf kids (including myself) that they might not hear everything important said by the teacher. Once during my mandarin class, I didn’t hear what the teacher announced the homework would be, so I went up to her personally, asking what was due the next class. When I arrived the next day with my homework neatly done, I learned that my other classmates had not heard the teacher announce the homework and as a result, had points taken off for late homework. Had I not gone up and asked the teacher personally (knowing that my hearing was unreliable) chances are I would have been receiving lower points as well. This is just one example in which being deaf has motivated me to work harder and yield better results.
Another advantage of being deaf is the number of opportunities it offers. One I’m not going to forget is when I met the president of Taiwan. When I was around the age of seven, the president made a visit to my mother’s foundation known as the Children’s Hearing Foundation. I remember the event very clearly and felt honored that the president had visited us simply to meet the deaf children. According to what I remember, he had a kind face and spoke gently to everyone present, both children and adults. Throughout the event, several deaf kids performed songs, stories, acting, artwork, and many other things, and the president was smiling. This was the first time I thought: ‘Wow, this deafness is an advantage here. It’s the reason all these parents are united. It’s the reason the president came to visit us.’ That was one of the first moments in which I realized that deafness could be an advantage, and parents had proved that to me by using my unique circumstances to help others.
Overall, being deaf can be tiresome and at times its disadvantages can hinder you, but this doesn’t have to be viewed as a negative trait, the situation lies within the individual who is deaf, and how that individual decides to approach the situation. After all, if it is true that no good comes without the bad, then isn’t the reverse true too?