Pass & Fail

green leafed plant on body of water

I work for my State’s Newborn Hearing Screening(NBHS) Program as the parent support portion of it.

This requires me to reach out to families with newborn babies and young children who have been newly identified as Deaf or Hard of hearing. And I absolutely love it.

Part of my job is to sit on different advisory councils and meetings to share my input as a parent of a Deaf child, which I also love.

If you’re not familiar with NBHS, you’re not alone and I won’t go into great detail here about it here. But for the purpose of this post, you need to understand that the program requires all newborns to have their hearing tested as part of their screening process before going home.

What I want to share is that the result of this particular screening is labeled as “pass” or “fail”.

The use of the term “fail” is very controversial in the Deaf Community and can be a very sensitive topic for Deaf Adults.

I recently had a conversation with a Deaf adult about this very topic this past week and it got me thinking again about our perception of the word “fail”.

We have been conditioned to believe that “pass” means something positive and “fail” means something negative–specifically that there is something we have been unable to achieve; or that we are lacking in some way.

We most commonly use these terms in relation to grades at school or academic achievement.

But in the medical world, “pass” and “fail” are meant to determine the level of the medical care we need to pursue.

These are two very different uses of these words and I bring this up because life is frequently that way.

We often use words as tools to gauge our performance in life or to measure our value.

We also often use the words and actions of others to quantify our value as a human-or our ability to be loved.

Another example of this happened during a conversation I was a part of in my women’s class at Church.

One woman shared that she disliked the usage of the phrase-“I am enough.” She felt it was used as an excuse not to try to improve ourselves or take time to recognize what faults we may be blind to.

Another woman shared that the phrase was one of her personal mantras and was a reminder that she was valuable and loved just as much as everyone else simply because she was created.

Both of these women have valid points. And both of them relate to this idea of passing and failing in life.

But they were referring to two completely different definitions of this phrase, just like this Deaf adult I was talking to was using the terminology of NBHS in a very different way than it was intended.

I would like to offer that neither of these definitions or opinions are right or wrong.

I believe that we are all seeing the world through our own lens-and that doesn’t have to mean that anything has gone wrong when we don’t understand the world through another person’s lens.

It just means that we have more perspectives to be aware of.

It means that we have more to learn from each other.

It means that we are all still human, doing our best with what we know.

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