Vancouver advocate illuminates challenges deaf people face with social media self-portrait

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      While many people might take their ability to hear for granted, a local deaf advocate is helping to remind hearing people about the challenges that deaf people face on a daily basis.

      Vancouverite Landon Krentz has worked with various arts and event organizations, including Made in B.C.—Dance on Tour, the Queer Arts Festival, Mascall Dance Studio, and the Vancouver Pride Society.

      "I have been involved with many non-profit organizations especially in the arts," Krentz told the Georgia Straight. "As a Deaf-queer individual, I bring unique life experience to arts administration and event management. I am from two different worlds: one is hearing and the other is Deaf. I belong to neither. Bilingual in American Sign Language and English, I believe in providing communication access to all people. I look forward to bringing my passion, energy and creativity to the self-portrait projects and creating a more united community."

      To help others understand what his life is like, Krentz decided to start a series of self-portraits on Facebook that illuminates his experience of being deaf. However, he explained that there are even challenges in trying to raise awareness.

      "I am challenged whenever I try to advocate for accessibility and it is not an easy task," he said. "My goal is to ensure that all people have a voice and allow Deaf and Hard of hearing individuals to address different kinds of issues. I was exploring with the idea of what the auditory binary looked like for hearing, d/Deaf, hard of hearing and late-deafening people in terms of self-expression, language and culture. Recently, I gave a presentation. Because the CI [cochlear implant] has remained controversial….I wanted to have a gentler approach in addressing the issue in a more organic and positive manner. This project inspired me to do self-portraits with my CI to promote inclusiveness and awareness. Access should be available to everyone."

      He also plans to continue making more posts in the near future.

      "I have a passion for making such issues known and feel that it is my cultural responsibility to bring these issues to light in order that the circumstances for people with hearing loss can be improved," he said. "I am hoping to continue this project on a bi-monthly basis. 'The Value' piece took me a good six week of research and implementing." 

      Here is Krentz's Facebook post, which accompanied the photo above and has gone viral:

      Self-Portrait #1: The Value

      What is the value of a conversation? How I love thee, let me count the ways:

      • ASL interpreters are $50 to $90 per hour, yet there is not enough work in the Deaf community

      • The CI processor itself is $9,000, yet it is not completely covered by healthcare

      • A good lip reader can read 30 percent of a language, yet a Deaf person still spends over 25,000 hours of being in a sound booth, meeting speech therapists, and seeing audiologists in a Deaf-lifetime

      • You can upgrade your iPhone every year, yet he is due for mandatory upgrades every five to eight years

      Lastly, his most precious value of all: his energy. This is something that is more costly than above all.

      He faces barriers on a daily basis. There are more hearing people than white people. There are more hearing people than males. There are more hearing people than any other majority groups in the world. Therefore, he is like a river rushing against the ocean.

      He is deprived of access, mutual respect, and is struggling to express himself without frustration and anger. He is a human being who is thirsty to be included. Hearing privilege is being able to jump in and out of “the fight.” You don’t have to live it every day if you don’t want to. Would you forgive him for not being patient?

      When you see him next time, consider taking a moment on how you would make the experience more accessible and give him a hug because you owe him his kindness.