Clare Cassidy

the woman who walked away

On Saturday, Debruary 6, the day before the Super Bowl, the Starkey Hearing Foundation held a Hearing Mission event at San Francisco State University, fitting and giving out free high-tech hearing aids to 134 locals, including 70 children, most of whom were students at Califoirnia School for the Deaf, Fremont.

Clare Cassidy, and her husbandd Jason Kulchinsky were eager to get their three Deaf sons fitted for new aids. But they objected to the very public circus-style approach. Each participant had to sign a media release. Then they had to undergo a public fitting and photo-opportunity "celebration" with their new aid. (One attendee has said that the Starkey crew discouraged people from signing; they told them to speak instead.)

Another Deaf mother sent a letter of protest to SHF after her children received free aids. But the Cassidy-Kulchinsky family was the only one that left without getting tthem.

Cassidy posted a powerful letter on Facebook:

I've had [a] few days to digest an unfortunate experience from last Saturday's event… Starkey is an organization that gives out free hearing aids. Awesome, right? Pretty cool to get free aids, as they have this motto, "So that the world may hear." In order to get those free aids…

It was an experience I wish I never put my boys through, it was quite appalling. When we arrived, (removal of specific individuals out of respect) were their interpreters. When entering, we had to sign a media release form. At first, my husband and I declined and we were informed that we couldn't participate unless signing the release. So, we went ahead (again, not even knowing what was expected).

As soon as we went into the building, we were shocked. There was a stage and on that stage, 3 stools for each person to sit on. [For] each stool, there was a team of cameras (video and photography)-—I'm not kidding, like 8 cameramen per stool. A person who was to receive the hearing aid would sit there and be filmed on their getting the aids. There were celebrities for each, who would "speak" into their ears and cheer whenever the person acknowledged hearing the sound. After that, tons of photos and cameras being few inches away from their faces with a kid (A KID) putting a gold medal necklace around the person.

We were told that we couldn't get hearing aids for our boys unless they went on stage and were filmed. There was no way we were going to allow our boys to be subjected to such exploitation. So, we left.

Cassidy's post was widely disseminated in the Deaf community.

Clare Cassidy with her three sonsOf course, the boys, who had been looking forward to getting new hearing aids, were disappointed, but Cassidy and Kulchinsky explained why they left, and the boys understood. It was a leaning experience in Deaf advocacy.

As for her background, she tells us, "I am an identical twin and my twin sister, Cat, is Deaf as well. We had a Deaf brother, but he committed suicide 9 years ago and I blame it entirely on the system run by Hearing people. He was 5 years older than me and had no access to language until 8 years old. The doctors told my parents that sign language caused mental retardation. That was in 1972." Clare and Cat, born in 1977, had an easier time of it—the language delay was far shorter.

After experiencing the downside of Oralism, the family relocated to Fremont. She graduated from CSD, attended Gallaudet University briefly, and graduated from RIT. "My degrees are in Psychology and Education. I am now a Middle School English teacher at CSD, a professional photographer and my three sons attend CSD."

About the Starkey controversy, she says, "We need the world to see that a Deaf child is a whole being, and that hearing aids are just a tool or an accessory, like a scarf. I hope that people will start listening to us, Deaf people, and take us more seriously."


Deaf Person of the Year
2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
Deaf Person of the Month: archives 2017
January 2017 February 2017 March 2017 April 2017 May 2017 June 2017
July 2017 August 2017 September 2017 October 2017 November 2017 December 2017
Deaf Person of the Month: archives 2016
January 2016 February 2016 March 2016 April 2016 May 2016 June 2016
July 2016 August 2016 September 2016 October 2016 November 2016 December 2016
Deaf Person of the Month: archives 2015
January 2015 February 2015 March 2015 April 2015 May 2015 June 2015
July 2015 August 2015 September 2015 October 2015 November 2015 December 2015
Deaf Person of the Month: archives 2014
January 2014 February 2014 March 2014 April 2014 May 2014 June 2014
July 2014 August 2014 September 2014 October 2014 November 2014 December 2014
Deaf Person of the Month: archives 2013
January 2013 February 2013 March 2013 April 2013 May 2013 June 2013
July 2013 August 2013 September 2013 October 2013 November 2013 December 2013
Deaf Person of the Month: archives 2012
January 2012 February 2012 March 2012 April 2012 May 2012 June 2012
July 2012 August 2012 September 2012 October 2012 November 2012 December 2012
Deaf Person of the Month: archives 2011
January 2011 February 2011 March 2011 April 2011 May 2011 June 2011
July 2011 August 2011 September 2011 October 2011 November 2011 December 2011
Deaf Person of the Month: archives 2010
January 2010 February 2010 March 2010 April 2010 May 2010 June 2010
July 2010 August 2010 September 2010 October 2010 November 2010 December 2010
Deaf Person of the Month: archives 2009
January 2009 February 2009 March 2009 April 2009 May 2009 June 2009
July 2009 August 2009 September 2009 October 2009 November 2009 December 2009
Deaf Person of the Month: archives 2008
January 2008 February 2008 March 2008 April 2008 May 2008 June 2008
July 2008 August 2008 September 2008 October 2008 November 2008 December 2008
Deaf Person of the Month: archives 2007
January 2007 February 2007 March 2007 April 2007 May 2007 June 2007
July 2007 August 2007 September 2007 October 2007 November 2007 December 2007

Site Terms | Contacts | Advertising | Privacy Policy

Any questions, comments, ideas, or concerns you’d like to share?  Contact us at editor@deafpeople.com.
Copyright © 2007 - 2017 MSM Productions Ltd. All Rights Reserved.