Is Deafness A Disability Or A Way Of Living?

1961 words - 8 pages

Two centuries ago, the Deaf community arose in American society as a linguistic minority. Members of this community share a particular human condition, hearing impairment. However, the use of American Sign Language, as their main means of communicating, and attendance to a residential school for people with deafness also determine their entry to this micro-culture. Despite the fact that Deaf activists argue that their community is essentially an ethnic group, Deaf culture is certainly different from any other cultures in the United States. Deaf-Americans cannot trace their ancestry back to a specific country, nor do Deaf neighborhoods exist predominantly throughout the nation. Additionally, more than ninety percent of deaf persons are born from hearing parents (Singleton and Tittle 222). Consequently, they often feel isolated from their families, as they do not even share the same language. Non-hearing children born into hearing families are more likely to attend a regular public school with typical peers, causing them to have little contact with other members from the Deaf community. Therefore, this community embraces a diverse group of individuals, who are surprisingly different from the rest of the members of their own families. This situation causes a cross-cultural conflict, which others believe needs fixing. Nevertheless, society should not perceive the Deaf community as a disability group but as a discrete linguistic minority, rich in history, values, and traditions.
Deaf people often occupy an uneasy position in society. Since most children with hearing impairments have hearing parents, their family members frequently oppress them by taking over the decision-making processes regarding their well-being (Andrews 27). For example, the use of cochlear implants has been a significant source of conflict among families of deaf persons. Cochlear implants are devices that aid in the complete or partial “restoration of speech understanding to [various] individuals who are severely or profoundly deaf” (Tucker 1). Evidently, most hearing parents wish to provide the possibility to hear to their children. In this way, their deaf children would have the opportunity to immerse themselves into the hearing community and share their culture and language, namely spoken English. Hearing parents sometimes even believe that Deaf activists hinder their responsibility as parents to ensure the full development of their offspring (Senghas and Monaghan 83). On the other hand, most deaf parents wish their children would be deaf, just like they are. They want their children to fit into their non-hearing world and desire for them to be a part of the Deaf culture. Regularly, if deaf parents find out that their children are likely to have the possibility of hearing at birth, they prefer not to have them or to abort them in gestation. Similarly, when some hearing parents realize their children might be hard of hearing, they decide not to have them, as well (Tucker 3)....

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