Full Show Index
Advertise With Us
Write For Us
Survivor: The Amazon - Heated Debate About Christyby Dale Sherman -- 03/19/2003
View Printable version of this article
Since the new season of Survivor has started, there has been a lot of heated debate about one particular contestant - Christy. What is it about her that makes her such a hotbed for discussion? Because she is hard-of-hearing (or, HOH, which is commonly used more often today), yet is attempting to participate in the "game" without special treatment. No special privileges to set her apart (and before anyone scoffs, keep reading as to what I mean by this), Christy is participating on the same level as everyone else in the show.
To do so has riled people up on both sides of the fence. Some people feel defensive in that Christy is even on the show, stating that she has an unfair advantage because of her "handicap," which makes everyone have to work harder for her benefit. On the other side are those in the deaf community who lash out at Christy for not using sign-language, or for even suggesting that she is "deaf," as she has the ability to hear some sounds (and therefore not technically deaf).
I've never been a follower of Survivor. The show has always been on at a time where I've had classes or other weekly events, so I just never got hooked on it the way many people have. In fact, I didn't even know about Christy's hearing problem until I was told about it after the first episode aired. Since then I've been trying to stay on top of what is happening on the show through the many articles here at RealityNewsOnline, as I am very curious as to how Christy does on the show. You see, I also have lived on both sides of the fence. I am a HOH person who every day has to overcome the "obstacles" that my handicap gives me. In doing so, I have gained success in the "hearing" world.
If I may, I would like to give you some information about myself in hopes that it may help to put my feelings about Christy's situation in some perspective. My own hearing problem developed when I was three years old. Typical story for many - I had a high fever due to illness, which led to nerve-deafness. Although I lost all of my hearing in my right ear and 80% in my left, I managed to function for some time as a child until my mother realized that I had trouble understanding her if she turned away from me. Evidently I had picked up lip-reading on my own without even being aware I was doing so.
When it came time for me to begin school, some people in authority at the public school system suggested to my mother and father that I would do better in a deaf school. Some even suggested a school for the mentally-handicapped would be better for me (one has to keep in mind that this was back in the late 1960s/early 1970s, when individuals with any type of disability were still considered "mentally challenged" instead of just physically challenged). My parents never agreed with such thinking for one simple reason - life is not a deaf school. If I was to learn how to live and work within a hearing society, I would have to go to a school that was part of that society. I may have learned quite a great deal in a deaf school (for example, I regret to this day that I've never learned sign-language), but going to public school did afford me a greater understanding of how people in general feel and react to those who are hearing-impaired.
Deafness is a strange handicap in a way, as it is not a visible sign that people can instantaneously pick up on, as even hearing-aids can be camouflaged in this day. Thus, people do not immediately recognize when a person cannot hear, and may deem some actions by a deaf or near-deaf person to be rude. To give a clearer example, if you see a person in a wheelchair, you know not to ask them to run downstairs and get the tools; or, if you see a person with a seeing-eye dog, you know that they may not be able to read a sign across the road. On the other hand, if someone does not respond to a question or asks to repeat something, they are deemed "slow-witted" or obnoxious. I've had people get angry because I have to ask them to repeat something to me again when I could not understand what they said the first time. I've had situations where people believed I was ignoring them on purpose because I would not respond to their questions. I've even been nearly arrested for drunk-driving, even though I have never touched alcohol in my life, when I asked the officer who pulled me over for driving through his small town at three in the morning to repeat a question three times. All of this behavior came about because it was assumed that I could properly hear.
Nor does the knowledge that I am hearing-impaired always help. I was called "retarded" due to my hearing problem in a grade school teacher in front of the class. I've had a professor in college tell me that I should not have any problems understanding him in class because "a blind girl did well in class last year." I was even officially told that the reason I did not get a promotion I was more than qualified for at a former place of work was because they "knew I wouldn't be able to hear the phone." No other reason was given; in fact, they told me that I would have been perfect for the job if only I "could hear."1 2 3 Next-->
View Printable version of this article