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"Deaf Parents and Hearing Children"



Natalie Hirst

15 May 2016

Deaf Parents and Hearing Children

            The dynamic of families that include both hearing and Deaf individuals is fascinating and worthy of discussion. Contrary to popular belief, approximately 90 percent of children born to Deaf parents have normal hearing (Collins, 1986). Glenn Collins' article, Children of Deaf Share Their Lives, offers insight into the thoughts and opinions of hearing children born to Deaf parents. Mike Jacobs, along with many of the people interviewed, claims he gained maturity and responsibility early in life. He views his family situation as a blessing and a burden, because while he was introduced into a wonderful culture, it was difficult being his parents' source of interaction with the hearing world. Most agreed that having Deaf parents was not the challenging part. Rather, it was society's tendency to demonstrate ignorance and insensitivity towards the Deaf community (Collins, 1986). It is surprising how uneducated people are about Deaf people.

            Kimberly Brown, one of the published Deaf writers on the blog, Limping Chicken, explains the positives and negatives of raising hearing children. Communication is obviously a challenging aspect of the process, along with ensuring that her children develop proper speech and language abilities (Brown, 2014). However, she points out some advantages of having hearing children. It is important to examine the positives of this situation because like she said, "there is always a silver lining in any situation." Brown says that having hearing children in a public situation is helpful because she can gain additional information from their body language and facial expressions. She also can communicate with them silently, via lip reading or sign language, if the Deaf mother did not completely understand something (Brown, 2014). Hearing children can be used as mediators and messengers for Deaf parents, and as long as it is kept to an appropriate amount, it is very positive (Brown, 2014).

            Hearing children with Deaf parents are considered bilingual and bicultural because most of the time, they are familiar with both ASL and spoken English (Singleton, Tittle, 2000). ASL is usually their first language, and a common misconception is that these hearing children are language-delayed or language-impaired (Singleton, Tittle, 2000). In fact, Kimberly Brown would argue that growing up around Deaf culture accelerates a child's intellectual abilities. By being exposed to closed captioning and subtitles, a child might become a better reader faster (Brown, 2014). In addition to gaining maturity, hearing children with Deaf parents are labeled as more independent, curious, and worldly by exploring the hearing world by themselves (Singleton, Tittle, 2000). 

            There are so many interesting topics to study regarding Deaf culture and American Sign Language, including the family dynamic between Deaf and Hearing people. These three sources provide valuable information about this subject. It is important to recognize the interactions between Deaf parents and Hearing children, because while hearing abilities differ, culture and language is shared.





Singleton, Jenny L., and Matthew D. Tittle. "Deaf Parents and Their Hearing Children." Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education 5.3 (2000): 221-36. Through the Looking Glass. Through the Looking Glass. Web.

Collins, Glenn. "Children of Deaf Share Their Lives." The New York Times. The New York Times, 14 Dec. 1986. Web. 15 May 2016. <>.

Brown, Kimberly. "The Advantages of Being a Deaf Parent to Hearing Children." The Limping Chicken. The Limping Chicken, 13 Aug. 2014. Web. 15 May 2016. <>.




Also see:
Parents, "Deaf Parents"
Parenting, Deaf: The Desire for Deaf Children


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