to think that being deaf is not a disability?

(432 Posts)
manicinsomniac Sun 12-Jan-14 17:10:15

I have a friend who is deaf. Her child is also deaf. Her child's father is not deaf.

My friend has a rich and diverse life among the deaf community. BSL is her first language (she also lip reads and is oral) and she feels most at home when using it. She works, she goes out, she watches tv/films, she volunteers and in general has a perfectly normal life, bar the fact that 85-90% of her time is spent with other deaf people. She feels that being able to hear would make her life worse (I can't pretend to understand but I accept what she says - stuff about never being able to experience peace and total focus, not have the ability to make instant friends with others because of a huge commonality, a loss of identity as a part of a very special community etc). She loves being deaf and it is who she is.

She doesn't even use terms like 'hearing loss', she calls it 'deaf gain'.

Her child is 9 and in a deaf unit within a mainstream school. Her ex partner wants the child to have a cochlear implant (I think that's what it is - an operation that would vastly improve the child's hearing anyway) but my friend is very against it as she feels it will take the child out of the community in which they belong and not properly make them a member of any other community. I don't know what the child wants, they are confused and trying to please both parents I think.

Most people have criticised my friend saying things along the lines of, 'why wouldn't you want to cure your child's disability' 'why not make a disabled child's life easier?' etc. I think they are wrong to think in those terms.

AIBU to think that being deaf is not a disability but in fact just a different language and culture?

BradleyCoopersCurlyPerm Sun 12-Jan-14 17:21:28

Hmmm what a load of shite!

Sound isn't limited to hearing people speak. We rely on our senses to live a normal life. The loss of any of those senses means adjustments have to be made, so of course it is a life impacting disability.

I can't imagine never hearing music, the ocean birds etc. Never mind relying on hearing traffic, people behind you etc.

JingleBrains Sun 12-Jan-14 17:21:31

YABU to generalise and say deafness is not a disability - it may not seem like it in your friend's case, but I am fairly sure not all deaf people feel like she does.

I have heard (oops blush ) before of a deaf family being against their child gaining the ability to hear, not sure how it ended but it was an interesting debate.

Ultimately I think these things are very very personal and all I would do is defend everyone's right to choose for themselves, without judging.

CakePunch Sun 12-Jan-14 17:22:01

If we were all deaf it probably wouldn't be but if you want to be in the 'hearing world' being deaf (with or without a cochlear implant) will put you at a disadvantage. 90% of deaf children are born to hearing parents. But lots of people do find that their Deaf identity is important and they gain more than they perceive they have lost, especially BSL users with deaf family members.

TinyTwoTears Sun 12-Jan-14 17:22:18

It is a disability but it is also a different language and culture. I know quite a few people who have a strong deaf identity but still have the implant.

I can see how your friend would see the implant as a threat to her maybe but her child could also be part of the deaf and hearing world.

I have a child who is hearing impaired. I'd say it was a hinderance. Hearing people don't make allowances so if you don't class it as a disability then they are even less likely to.

MeepMeepVrooooom Sun 12-Jan-14 17:22:32

Yes I did read it and I stand by what I said. It is ignorant

I enjoy theatre and nature, though and couldn't imagine being ok with my children not being able to hear both, if they wanted to.

Or music etc.

mummybare Sun 12-Jan-14 17:22:45

Hearing is an ability that deaf people don't have so therefore YABU.

But YANBU to say that deaf people can have a rich and full life. As can other people with disabilities.

BrianTheMole Sun 12-Jan-14 17:23:10

You’re disabled under the Equality Act 2010 if you have a physical or mental impairment that has a ‘substantial’ and ‘long-term’ negative effect on your ability to do normal daily activities

For some it might have a long term negative impact, for others it wouldn't.

BradleyCoopersCurlyPerm Sun 12-Jan-14 17:23:10

And I also think outlooks will probably differ between those born deaf and those who become deaf.

X post with Bradley.

WestieMamma Sun 12-Jan-14 17:24:00

The OP reads like it's been taken straight from an episode of Law and Order.

OneHolyCow Sun 12-Jan-14 17:25:06

Ah, well.. I've worked a bit with deaf people and there is a split in the deaf community about this actually. Some people are very worried that an implant will take them out of a community and that they will not be accepted by hearing people. For some, being in the deaf community is like a culture; they have their own language and social group. Fear of being excluded is not imaginary. I can understand that the woman is worried for het child in some cases yes. It depends on the level in which they are accepted and 'functioning' in the world of the hearing. So, if that is the case for your friend, then that;s it. Doesn't mean that it applies to all deaf people though.

Piscivorus Sun 12-Jan-14 17:25:07

As one who was born with hearing, became deaf as a child, regained hearing after an op some years later and now can hear reasonably well except when I have a cold or similar I can promise you deafness is a disability. Being able to hear allows access to a much wider world.

Your friend is clearly coping with it brilliantly but it is still a disability

Agree with special that the disagreement between the parents is the big issue but, as one who has experience of hearing and of deafness, I think your friend is being unreasonable and her child may resent that choice when she is older.

WestieMamma Sun 12-Jan-14 17:25:16
CakePunch Sun 12-Jan-14 17:25:17

By the way having a cochlear implant doesn't make you not deaf.

pinkpiggy Sun 12-Jan-14 17:26:14

Of course it's a disability. It has an impact on every part of life and it's hidden. Deaf people may appear 'normal' but often have to make huge efforts and struggle in everyday situations

soverylucky Sun 12-Jan-14 17:27:23

A member of my family lost all hearing as an adult after a serious illness. Completely deaf and yet still people think that they just need to shout louder for them to hear. They had an implant and it didn't work. Their life would be a million times easier and better if they could hear again and I wouldn't wish what happened to them on anyone.
OP is insensitive and generalised to say the least.

GobbySadcase Sun 12-Jan-14 17:27:36

Oh yeah it's just lovely trying to cross a bendy road not knowing if you'll live or die cos you can't hear the traffic.

Or not being able to sort stuff out on the phone because the background noise confuses and disorientates you.

Or not being able to hear anything at your kids' school plays. Great that is.

You try it, OP, if you think it's so great.

Chippednailvarnish Sun 12-Jan-14 17:28:32

Would you choose for your child to be deaf OP?

I suspect not.

Speaking as someone who was born with very poor hearing and has spent all her life with different levels of hearing, to be told that I'm just part of a different language and culture is nothing short of ridiculous.

TinyTwoTears Sun 12-Jan-14 17:28:59

I imagine that it is a difficult choice to make though. There are other things to consider when having a CI.

thatwouldbeanecumenicalmatter Sun 12-Jan-14 17:29:04

OP are you for real? Seriously? hmm

There's such a stunning level of ignorance about hearing impairments. Most people think that having a CI or wearing a hearing aid will make you 'not deaf'. This is far from reality, no aid will ever be the same as being able to hear.

manicinsomniac Sun 12-Jan-14 17:30:36

Wow, didn't mean to be offensive. I tried very hard with the wording to try and make sure it wasn't. Sorry to anyone upset by it.

Thanks EATmum, I will definitely look for the article.

Minor point but many (I don't know how many) deaf people can enjoy listening to music - they can feel the rhythm and vibrations.

BCCP I was just about to say the same thing. I think the deafness or otherwise of parents and other family members must also have a huge impact.

Farrowandbawl Sun 12-Jan-14 17:31:36

Jesus wept.

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