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Audism is a set of beliefs that include: hearing people are superior to Deaf people; Deaf people should be pitied for having futile and miserable lives; Deaf people should become like hearing people as far as possible; and shunning of sign languages.
Linguistic audism can occur by banning use of sign languages. Many schools throughout the world engaged in such prohibition and many continue to do so. Audism may also be found in deaf education and in other corporate institutions and groups that deal with deafness. In these cases, it is believed[
Dysconscious audism favors what is normal for hearing people. This limits Deaf culture and pride, by creating an environment in which deaf people must conform to the ways of hearing people. It greatly impacts Deaf education in terms of shunning sign languages in favor of communication that is based on spoken languages, and more acceptable to hearing people.
Additionally, deaf people can practice forms of discrimination against members of their own community, based on what they believe is acceptable behavior, use of language, or social association. Dr. Genie Gertz explored examples of such audism in American society in her published dissertation. Audism can also occur between groups of deaf people, with some who choose not to use a sign language and not to identify with
Active audism is when a person knowingly engages in audist behavior. The person knows the effects of audism, yet still engages in this behavior and has an audist attitude. Passive audism is when a person is engaging in audist behavior, yet does not have knowledge about the Deaf community's values. Passive audists do not think about how their actions or words concern deaf individuals, hearing individuals, or sign language. Passive audists act due to their lack of knowledge of the Deaf community and its culture.[
Ben Bahan describes audism in two forms: overt and covert audism. Overt audism is a term used to define Deaf people and their culture as inferior to hearing culture. In the medical field, this idea can manifest by looking at deafness as something to be fixed, but can also be applied to practices such as audiology, speech therapy, medicine psychology, social work and other fields. This does not mean that all institutions inherently practice audism but that they are revert to audiological tendencies. These two forms illustrate the exclusion of Deaf people from specific institutions or practices. Bahan notes inventions such as telephones, radios, or a lunch bell can be considered audist because they are sound-based technologies.