Thursday, May 1, 2008

Deafness is a culture or disability or both?

This post is mostly for parents of deaf children who are trying to understand deafness.

In the past few years, the phrase "disabled people" have been changed "people with disabilities". A disability is a body function is impaired compare to the usual normal healthy abilities of a body and within a body, including physical impairment, sensory impairment, cognitive impairment, intellectual impairment mental illness, and various types of chronic disease (like mulitiple scleorsis). When we are talking about deafness, deaf is a disability in wich you have a loss of one of the 5 senses that enable a human being to be "normal". When we talk about ur senses which are seeing, hearing, touching, tasting, and smelling. Unless the senses are working properly in the brain, we are not able to perceive and properly make use of the information from our senses. Sensory impairment usually defined the two most common disabilities which are: vision disibility and hearing disability or both which is often called dual sensory impairments. Some Deaf people and hearing-impaired individuals consider themselves disabled because of their inability to hear. Even though often Deaf people whose primary language is the sign language such as American Sign Language is a culture and don't consider themselve having a disability among each other. However, when they are in the foreign part of the United States which the primary language is English in which Deaf people is unable to hear. This means they have "disability" to hear the common spoken language which is when they feel disabled because of experiences with discrimination as well as the inability to hear. To most Deaf people, deafness is not really a disability but rather a minor thing that they can't hear.

The major barrier of deafness is the inability to communicate normally. This is where many defined as the real disability rather than "deafness". Communication is a major barrier for all people with hearing loss including myself. I am deaf without the help from hearing-aids. Not being able to hear "normally" like whispering and soft talks, I can't communicate with hearing people.

So, in terms of hearing loss, not able to hear is not a disability to me because the major disability for me is unable to communicate with those who can hear. At the same time, even though I know ASL but I don't live in the Deaf culture, I also have the inability to communicate "normally" with the Deaf culture. Disability is communication.

I have other forms of disabilities including Multiple Sclerosis so I know what the word "disability" really means.

Its a tough and confusing world out there but once you take the time to understand the basic concept of Deaf people's point of view of the word "disability", you will know know what they are talkinga about.

This is my view and not necessary common agreement among Deaf and hearing-impaired people.


OCDAC said...

Wow were going in circles with his one. Its been repeated like 5-6 times weve brought this discussion.

Grendel said...

Hi Jim, I like the distinction you make when you write: "This means they have "disability" to hear the common spoken language ... "

I don't think of my daughter, who is deaf, as being disabled. But I do think she has a disability in the way you describe in that statement, and it's a shared disability with the general society that doesn't know ASL. So because of our society's language limitations, she has a disability or is at a disadvantage, but certainly not at home or where others know her language.

Li-Li's Mom

whimsical brainpan said...

I enjoy hearing your views on this very much. You really have opened my eyes.