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The Perspectives of Hearing People Regarding Deafness vs the Perspectives of the Deaf Community:

By Karlee Wickline:

Perspectives on Deafness through Hearing People Vs. the Deaf Community

In the dictionary, "deaf" is described as "Partially or wholly lacking or deprived of the sense of hearing; unable to hear" ( While this seems like an easy concept to understand, you cannot fully comprehend what it means to be deaf without being deaf yourself.  Hearing people have been redefining "deaf" for a very long time and it almost always has a negative effect on the Deaf community.

In the late 1800's, Alexander Graham Bell delivered a speech to the National Academy of Sciences about the creation of a "defective race," now known as the Deaf community. In the past, he spoke about the benefits of oralism, or the training in speech and lip reading. He felt that deaf children would never be fully accepted in society and would never get to participate in everyday activities the way that hearing children could. He tried to eliminate the use of sign language by convincing schools that Deaf teachers and students were the problem and that teaching them how to use their voice would somehow "fix them." (Consuelo Manera Soto)

Deaf and hard of hearing people fought Bell hard and for a long time to prove that deafness was not the problem. They called it the "natural language of the Deaf" and reached out to the Deaf community in hopes of raising awareness for their cause. Deafness as a culture is a much more accurate view than deafness as a disorder in the eyes of Deaf people because they believe that being Deaf is part of who they are. They also believe that as long as they have an acceptance of their deafness, a positive attitude towards signing, effective interpersonal relationship and social skills, etc. that they are a "well-adjusted Deaf person." (Dr. Allen E. Sussman, Professor Emeritus Gallaudet University, Washington, D.C.).

Today, as long as Deaf people are "well adjusted" they are considered healthy and normal in the Deaf community as well as most hearing people. However, there are some topics that still have blurry lines between Hearing and Deaf people. For example, the Deaf community believes that being deaf is part of their identity while hearing people may believe that deafness is a problem that needs a solution (James, 1991). Cochlear implants are a very sensitive topic for some Deaf people because they may not want to be able to hear while Hearing people try to convince them to get the implants. In the Deaf community, deafness is not something that needs a solution so cochlear implants may offend those who do not want to hear. Hearing people will never understand this because they don't know what it is like to be Deaf, just like Deaf people will never understand why the ability to hear is so important to the everyday life of a Hearing person.

Deaf people have conquered prejudice which shows that the Deaf community is perfectly fine the way they are and hearing people will not change their customs based on personal opinion. Deafness will always be part of human life and the sooner Hearing people accept it, the better things will get for Deaf people. Hearing and Deaf people are the same in many ways and also very different in others, which may cause controversy between the two cultures. When people come to accept each other and stop trying to change others, the world will be at peace.

deaf. (n.d.). Unabridged. Retrieved August 20, 2016 from website

Benito, S. Retrieved August 20, 2016 from Alexander Graham and the deaf community: a troubled history-published January 29, 2014.  Retrieved August 20, 2016. Published March 2007 by PBS-copyright 2007.   August 20, 2016. Soto, C- PhD, NCC. "the psychological world of deaf people"  August 20, 2016. Disabilities Studies Quarterly-Jones, M Ph.D. Copyright 2002 by the Society for Disability Studies.



Notes: Submitted on 2016-08-


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