Landon Krentz on being deaf: Silent, not invisible

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      Landon Krentz is a Vancouver-based arts and events management professional and deaf-queer individual. He has created a series of social media self-portraits to raise awareness of issue that deaf people face. This is the third self-portrait in his series.

      Our world predominately operates on the basis of what is visible to the naked eye. There is a seemingly infinite amount of colours and shapes: the stars, the snow, the sand, and any other object one can imagine. 

      The Deaf identity has a colour and it is translucent. 

      It is incredibly hard to address specific social issues when an identity, like the one the person in the image has, is not seen by the general population. There are numerous other identities that are not seen. Certain disabilities, racial status(es), and invisible gender identities are examples that come to mind.

      The individual depicted passes off as a "hearing person" because he is able to verbally communicate and has access to the hearing world. Many assume that because he has a voice and a cochlear implant (CI) there is no excuse to address communication barriers. Certain people often begin speaking with him but, when he explains he is Deaf, they often say, “never mind” and walk away. In other words, what they are saying is: "Screw you and your accessibility needs".

      This individual has the privilege of what is called "passing", where one assumes he is an able-bodied, Caucasian, heterosexual, hearing, and cisgender male when in reality how can one just assume this is completely true? This passing privilege comes with a risk—a risk of being seen by choice. And, as he is sometimes thought of as misleading people, he is often very confused himself.

      According to the Canadian Hard of Hearing Association, there are 3.15 million Deaf people and 350,000 Hard of Hearing people in Canada. If Vancouver has 2.4 million residents, where are the 61,000 Deaf/HoH individuals? Are they invisible? No, they’re silent. 

      A feeling of belonging is not always possible for individuals who have access to both hearing and Deaf worlds. Upon that subject, they are often silent. The above portrait is a starting point for you to for you to consider the experiences of Deaf individuals. Do take a gander but also try to put yourself in his position. Regardless of who you are as a reader, you are a part of him and he is a part of you.