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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?

MeepMeepVrooooom Sun 12-Jan-14 17:13:35

Message deleted by Mumsnet for breaking our Talk Guidelines. Replies may also be deleted.

MeepMeepVrooooom Sun 12-Jan-14 17:14:03

Fuck *

SaucyJack Sun 12-Jan-14 17:14:55

Honestly? I think "deaf gain" is a load of PC gone mad bullshit, but I totally understand why a deaf person would want to try and put a positive slant on it.

If I or my child lost my hearing tomorrow, I'd see it at a disability and would want to do something about it personally.

PenguinBear Sun 12-Jan-14 17:15:14


specialsubject Sun 12-Jan-14 17:15:34

not having a sense that is normally functioning in our species is defined as a disability. Doesn't mean your friend is any less of a person.

but my main issue is the war between the parents. I don't see why being able to hear (IF that is what the op does) would mean that the child would have to leave the deaf community, assuming that she can lipread, sign etc.

MrsWolowitz Sun 12-Jan-14 17:15:41

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

SauvignonBlanche Sun 12-Jan-14 17:16:02

I think it's both.
I believe my deafness is a disability but as I am not profoundly deaf, I have never learnt BSL and am not part of that culture and community. I understand how strongly those that are feel about their community and admire them for it but it does seem an intransigent position.

charitygirl Sun 12-Jan-14 17:16:58

Did you read the post Meep? You might disagree but the OP is clearly talking from a position that in informed by what a significant number of deaf people themselves say.

Doinmummy Sun 12-Jan-14 17:17:15

Of course it's a disability. What a stupid thing to say.

saulaboutme Sun 12-Jan-14 17:17:17

It is a disability. Being deaf isn't a culture. Never heard that before.

coppertop Sun 12-Jan-14 17:17:20

And what about those people who don't have BSL as their first language?

And films/TV are only accessible if they have subtitles or signing. Many films and TV programmes have none.

And what about if you have to venture into the hearing world every single day because your child is not deaf?


PenguindreamsofDraco Sun 12-Jan-14 17:17:33

I am about 75% deaf and wear bilateral aids. There is barely an area of my life that isn't adversely affected. And it's invisible, so no-one realises until I spell out the problem, and even then people don't really get what it's like to get about 20% of the picture, no subtext, constantly having to make so much effort. I can't hear my son cry because it's outside my frequency range, likewise smoke alarms, sirens etc. I miss so much. YABU, no question.

DioneTheDiabolist Sun 12-Jan-14 17:18:12

My dad is deaf. It is definitely a disability and he hates it.

doitmyself Sun 12-Jan-14 17:18:21

Being deaf is classed as a disability because under the social model, the barriers are the disability. Not everyone can lipread. Try doing half the things in society if you are deaf. Schools, shops, most things are set up for hearing people.
It sounds like your friend is happy, good for her, but there are many things she might be excluded from. My mum is deaf (and her parkinsons is too bad for BSL) and she has terrible trouble, cant make phone calls, cant deal with hospital consultants for her various health issues. She is cut off from so much.

AntoinetteCosway Sun 12-Jan-14 17:18:57

My mother is deaf. The discrimination she has faced her whole working life suggests it's very much a disability.

Donki Sun 12-Jan-14 17:19:11

There has been a long argument and deep divide over this in the past.

However most children who are profoundly deaf now get CI - it does not prevent them being part of the deaf community or having BSL as first language if the family language is BSL. It gives the children more choice as they grow up - and makes life outside the Deaf community/culture more accessible.

SecretNutellaFix Sun 12-Jan-14 17:19:18

Just because one person is able to put a positive spin on it doesn't make it not a disability.

Yes, it is a different language, but it's one in which too few people are able to converse, which hampers ones ability to interact with the majority of people outside their family unit.

So, in answer to your question, YABU

NatashaBee Sun 12-Jan-14 17:19:25

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Birdsgottafly Sun 12-Jan-14 17:19:45

I know a lot of people who are deaf, see themselves as part of an alternative society and community. Which is a positive way if looking at their condition, I suppose.

It is a disability, because hearing is a natural body function and much needed.

I agree that most disabled people are disabled by the way that society is set up, but being blind or deaf, is different than being in a wheelchair and not as easy overcome.

My DD has had hearing problems which has added to her S&L issues, it does impact on what she can do and how she is accepted.

I'm on the fence, tbh, but I would go for the OP if it was my child.

FrontForward Sun 12-Jan-14 17:20:04

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

I'd say your friend does not feel disabled.

It doesn't mean deafness is not a disability. I don't think your post is offensive in the slightest. I think it raises a good question about people's perception

BrianTheMole Sun 12-Jan-14 17:20:15

Well, some people see it as a disability and others do not. I would see it as a disability, but a close work colleague, who has been profoundly deaf since birth, and has strong links with the deaf community, certainly would not. Some would think a cochlear implant would be a good thing, others would be aghast for the reasons you give. I can see both sides.

EATmum Sun 12-Jan-14 17:20:42

There's an amazing article I read called 'Ask the elephant' that you could google - it's definitely available online. I found it really interesting. Can't remember the author though, sorry.

WooWooOwl Sun 12-Jan-14 17:20:49

There is more to hearing than having a conversation in the same language, and it's not up to you to decide whether it's a disability or not. Some who have a hearing impairment will feel disabled, others won't. It's not your place to try and define it for them.

GossamerHailfilter Sun 12-Jan-14 17:21:00

YABU and I dont know if you are being intentionally goady.

It interfers with the child leading a 'normal' as possible life and it can be fixed. To not want to do it is entirely selfish on the mothers part.

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