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Deafness as a Disability

Cecilia Morales's picture

One topic that briefly came up in class last week was the idea that some people in the deaf community don't consider themselves disabled. I am not part of the deaf community so I can't speak on the perspective of these individuals, but through briefly browsing some articles it seems to me that there are a couple of ways to look at the situation. One common narrative that I found was that some deaf people stay away from the label of disability because of the stigma attached to it. They may view disability through the same lens in which society does or at least be aware of how disability is seen by society-- as a deficit, resulting in reduced quality of life. Thus, they want to stay away from being viewed in this manner. There are also the individuals who believe that they don't face many accessibility barriers from being deaf, because their only impariment is that of communication, but they have established their own language so communication is not an issue. Additionally, some deaf individuals can lip read and have a conversation with a hearing person easily without the need for accessibility tools. On the other hand individuals argue that being deaf is a disability because of the barriers and challenges still faced in society, such as employment discrimination, issues of education, lack of accessibility technologies, etc. Overall, it is an interesting debate to read about and ultimately comes down to personal choice about whether someone wants to be considered disabled or not. However, within the context of this debate it's important to keep in mind the different understandings, perspectives, definitions and biases that someone has about disability, and how that might be shaping their argument.