David Jonsson was born and raised in Belvidere, Illinois. After being diagnosed with hearing loss at age three due to an infection from ear tubes, Jonsson was fitted with a hearing aid. Growing up, his primary mode of communication was oral even though he struggled with lip reading and listening. He was often asked about his deaf “accent.” For most of his life, Jonsson remained unaware of sign language and Deaf culture. In the past few years, however, he has started learning sign language, become aware of Deaf culture, and stopped wearing his hearing aid. In his eyes, he has already given as much effort as he can; now, he hopes hearing people will return that effort by learning his language and culture.
Jonsson currently resides in Madison, WI. In his free time, he also draws and paints; he considers art a great way to be in a social atmosphere without requiring much conversation. He also dabbles in photography. Much of Jonsson’s artwork was done unintentionally: he would go to a random location, such as a pub, and after a couple drinks, he would scribble on a postcard—often sketches of Vikings or chicken runners. “Perhaps I was a Viking in a previous life,” Jonsson quips. He is currently in the process of getting his artwork online.
After the market crashed, he became an entrepreneur in the Internet marketing field, starting his own blog called Brotheryellow. The content/theme of his blog is about the metaphysical nature of the holographic universe. For Jonsson, this theme implies that we, the world, are one, not separated by certain societies. His current topic of interest is his Deafhood.
According to Jonsson, one of the most important words to know is audism, the belief that hearing people are “superior” to or “better off” than deaf and hard of hearing people because of their hearing status. For example, audism can occur when a deaf client is not provided with a qualified interpreter; or a medical professional discourages hearing parents from exposing their children to sign language. In Jonsson’s case, he had been maced, cuffed, and locked up in jail due to an misunderstanding with the police; as he tells it, the police officers involved did not make any effort to accommodate his language or communication preferences. When he was young, a ‘faith healer’ took out his hearing aid and threw it away, proclaiming that he was healed. Jonsson had to search out his hearing aid under the pews. Experiences like these engendered his mistrust in people– including his parents, who did little to stop these things.
Jonsson’s awakening happened in a road trip to Denali, Alaska, with his brother, who told him that he was Deaf—as in, not hearing or even hard of hearing. It was then that Jonsson realized why he had never felt like he belonged in any society; that revelation was the beginning of his journey into the Deaf world.
Jonsson feels that his purpose is to advocate for Deaf power and combat audism. He believes that all deaf and hard of hearing individuals should have the opportunity to learn sign language, and that cochlear implantation should not be performed on young children. Most importantly, he states, education is where it all starts. In his own words: “You have a right to be Deaf!”
The interview in its entirety can be found on Jonsson’s blog at http://brotheryellow.com.