Saturday, April 12, 2008

Why some countries are still using this term: "a deaf and dumb person"?

Like in Africa and similar countries as this one article for an example, Sprayer robs deaf and dumps' mobile phone

Whenever someone is using "Deaf and dumb", I am amazed that people are still doing it. Anyone using the word "dumb" in such context is .... well ... very ignorant.

When using the "dumb", when applied to deaf people who do not speak of an archaic term (the use of a form of speech or writing that is no longer current) that is considered very offensive. Of course, the word "dumb" also has another more common meaning now that implies stupidity, which is certainly not applicable to most Deaf people.

Just my morning's venting after reading an article.

Have a good weekend.


Andrea said...

Deaf people in Africa do not like the term "deaf and dumb" any more than we do here. But there are several barriers that make it harder to get the same message across to hearing people in Africa (including in the media) that we have managed to get across in the US:

1. Although there ARE Deaf organizations throughout Africa, they are by and large much younger, and usually smaller and weaker, than their US counterparts. The US NAD has been around since 1880; that has given them, and the many smaller organizations, 128 years to teach hearing people to stop using the term "deaf and dumb"! Compare to an organization that might have been established 15 years ago and is always struggling to survive on a shoe string.

NGOs (non-governmental orgs) in Africa also tend to have less money, simply because PEOPLE in Africa have less money to give to them. That also makes it more of a challenge for them to do the kind of on-going media outreach effort it would take to get media to change their attitudes.

2. Deaf people face more barriers in obtaining an education in Africa than they do in the US, Europe etc., which means they are FAR more likely to be illterate. There might only be a small handful of literate Deaf people in a given African country. The ones who are not only literate but also active with advocacy efforts may have many demands on their time (for example, advocating for more educational opportunities, or reaching out to employers to educate them about the good quality of deaf workers, etc.) that crowd out the time they might other wise take to reach out to the media to teach them about appropriate word usage.

3. They're facing more of an upward battle. Meaning, many hearing people are still pretty resistant to actually listening to deaf people and taking them seriously.

But there ARE some efforts going on to reach out to media outlets in Africa. It might interest you to read about a training manual that has been written specifically targeted at African journalists about how they can write in a more appropriate, empowering way about people (persons) with disabilities--not just language, but things like the idea that they should include people with disabilities in all types of stories, not just in "disability" stories.

whimsical brainpan said...

I've always thought that was such a stupid phrase.

Abbie said...

A book called "The Unheard: A Memoir of Deafness and Africa does a good job portraying just how lax the educational system is in Africa. They basically stick the deaf children in a room and do nothing with them. It is so sad, so so sad.