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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?

Greyhound Mon 28-Jul-14 16:01:47

There is definitely a strong community amongst people who are deaf.

I suppose a disability to one person might not be a disability to another.

I have bipolar and am technically disabled by this. Horrendous though the illness can be, there is the other side of it - I feel I have had insights and experiences through bipolar that other people might not. There is a flip side to most things in life.

I once went temporarily deaf due to a severe ear infection and I have to say the experience was horrendous - I felt claustrophobic and panicky until I could hear again.

ICanSeeTheSun Mon 28-Jul-14 15:54:13

old thread

2old2beamum Mon 28-Jul-14 15:50:39

May I just add a cochlear implant does not always enable a child to hear clearly. DS was implanted at 8 but it was just for environmental sounds even if he had sight I would still class him as disabled.

Having previously been a hearing person on the edge of the Deaf community I can completely see your friend's point. ITA with the poster that said that some deaf people gain far more than they have lost. I can see that if you are one of those people that calling it a disability could be insulting.

I have also seen that for some deafness is a disability, that their lives have not been enriched by it, but diminished by it.

Bigglesfliesundone Mon 28-Jul-14 15:17:58

Of course, aids are only available if you live in the right area. My daughter has a unilateral hearing loss (and YES it IS a disability- I also have it) and the pct ( or whatever they call themselves now) will not fund it. 20 miles down the road they will .

maryhare Mon 28-Jul-14 15:15:12

hatchypomagain very good points made. Oral deaf education enables children to access the hearing community in later life. Happy to answer questions on deaf education...

hatchypomagain Thu 01-May-14 22:56:26

Wow this thread is full of opinions - being deaf changes lots of things but modern hearing technology such as digital hearing aids and cochlear implants change a deaf persons choices hugely. Here is a fact to consider, 90% of deaf children are born to hearing parents so for most deaf children, they are not born into Deaf culture and Bsl is not the language of their family.

I have 3 children, two of whom have bilateral implants and both of them have age appropriate speech and language. The human brain, astonishing technology and good therapy have helped them to make the most of the choice I made to give them hearing.

Happy to dispel myths ....ask away

MyrtleDove Thu 01-May-14 19:43:23

Louise but some Deaf people are perfectly happy being Deaf and have no desire to be able to hear, and do not consider themselves to be missing out. It's up to Deaf people to decide if they consider themselves disabled or not, not hearing people.

MyrtleDove Thu 01-May-14 19:41:16

I think there are two different issues here - one is deaf/Deaf (iirc not all deaf people self-identify as Deaf which refers to Deaf the culture? please correct me if I'm wrong) people identifying as not-disabled and not wanting CIs because of this, which definitely is sometimes the case. If the OP's friend does not identify as disabled, she is free to make that decision. However, officially deafness is legally a disability. It isn't ignorant of OP to acknowledge Deaf culture and community, but it doesn't apply to all deaf people.

The other issue is hearing people suggesting that deafness is not a 'real' disability, and actually some other disabled people feel this way as it is an invisible disability. I don't know if anyone else remembers but there was a show on BBC Three a few years ago about disabled models. All had visible disabilities (in a wheelchair, amputated limbs etc) apart from two women, a Deaf woman and a woman with ME/CFS. The women with visible disabilities basically considered the ones with invisible disabilities to not be 'really' disabled and that they shouldn't have qualified for the show. A lot of the social issues deaf/Deaf people face are similar to those encountered by those with other invisible disabilities.

Louise1956 Thu 01-May-14 19:41:01

Of course being deaf is a disability, don't be silly. nobody in their right mind could possibly think that it is better to not be able to hear, than to be able to. i don't care how rich and satisfying a deaf person's life is, they are still missing out on something by not being able to hear. how would you like to not be able to hear birdsong, or music, or the words spoken by actors in plays etc, or never to be able to hear the voices of your children? You'll be saying next that blindness isn't a disability. get a grip on yourself.

Mandatorymongoose Thu 01-May-14 18:54:07

ear inhades = hearing aids or something different?

SarahAndFuck Thu 01-May-14 16:07:36

hardofhearing - who is 'we' and what is the research for?

fromparistoberlin73 Thu 01-May-14 14:41:08

sweet jesus

Chocoholic36 Thu 01-May-14 14:32:51

My bff daughter is deaf. It is a disability. She has a blue badge for the car and received DLA.

You might say being deaf isn't a disability but knowing my friends daughter it is. She is 11 now - she can't go out to play on her own because she has lost a sense - she wouldn't hear oncoming traffic, someone walking behind her etc. At home when her ear inhades sp??? Come out she wouldn't hear the smoke alarm, someone knocking in the door etc.

I have a disabled child - spina bifida - we are quite well known in the local disabled community it is great and a massive support. But if I could give him an operation to make him walk better then I would jump at the chance and i can't understand a parent who wouldn't.

Isn't it our job as parents to want better for our children. I think your friend is being very very unreasonable. Her reasons are crap sorry.

MistressDeeCee Thu 01-May-14 12:53:58

OP you sound awful. Who are you to look at your friend and define her having a hearing impairment as, not a disability? You've no concept of what it means to live with that. Would you be happier if her quality of lif was impaired because she is hearing impaired?

You've said many of your friends have criticised her too. What for? Because she has as rich and diverse life, a good family set up, and that makes you jealous? Sounds as if all of you discuss her. No doubt after all of you criticising her, you taking it further by putting up this thread, you'll still all be smiling in her face. Hypocrites, to use even her being hearing impaired as a reason for being a hater. I wish you'd say what you've said in your post to a professional working in this field, so you could rightly be told to shut up and stop talking utter rubbish.

I wish this woman knew what you were truly like so she could dump you all as you deserve and get herself some real friends.

GatoradeMeBitch Thu 01-May-14 12:47:11

Bump for hardofhearing.

bionicmother Thu 06-Feb-14 09:18:03

I sympathize with FCEK. I was so lucky to be away from Deaf Culture, away from Deaf Clubs and never learning BSL. Heck, if I knew how hostile they would be for just the fact that I want my life back, hearing, listening to music, I possibly would have believed all the misinformation that CI does not work. Misinformation is rife. CI works well, as in anything occasionally does not but in tiny percentage however lots depends on positive attitude as in anything in life and how we were brought up. If we were brought up in sign language only, with no access to all family speaking, then it will be very very difficult to succeed. Interestingly enough at my Clinic in London, the doctors see more and more deaf parents asking for CI for their children. They want their children have opportunities and independence they never had.

BasketzatDawn Wed 05-Feb-14 22:14:31

I know some of us were a bit harsh to the OP. Though this is AIBU innit? grin But being deaf can be so difficult and isolating, and it's very upsetting how disabling it is in what is a hearing world. I know there isa difference in those of us still living with hearing loss in a largely hearing world, and those like OP's friend who is largely in the Deaf community. But .....

I'd argue that even where a person had lots of community support - like OP's friend - it's still a disability. eg. If she had a day in court for whatever reason, she'd need extra support to follow proceedings. It's likely lipreading alone wouldn't get her through.

I know there can be a them and us attitude amongst some of the Deaf community, and I can kind of see why. It's similar to autistic adults (some of them on MN, it has to be said) thinking there's a problem if NT parents struggling to raise autistic children complain. I'm in that 'club' too - at least I THINK I'm NT.* smile

NT = neurotypical, BTW. Kind of shorthand for ' not autistic'.

Hope you are okay, OP

FCEK Wed 05-Feb-14 20:55:52

I'm a deaf woman with a cochlear implant. Have maybe outed myself but I don't give a f*ck

I consider myself disabled. My CI hasn't changed that. I am not 'cured' nor am I 'hearing'.


I encountered a LOT of hostility towards my getting a CI.

Some deaf people don't want to change it, they don't see it as a problem (kind of what the OP is saying about 'not a disability') and they see the problem as being everyone else.

You see hearing people talking about how 'foreigners' should 'fit in' etc well I've met some deaf people who feel its the hearing people who should 'fit in' and that BSL should be taught in schools and its only a disability because hearing people won't make the effort to learn.

There are some really OTT deaf people out there.

I guess you have to be raised deaf amongst deaf people to fully understand - Im deaf raised amongst hearing people.

bionicmother Wed 05-Feb-14 19:53:20

If anyone would like to, there is a Facebook Group which is good place specially for those who got recently diagnosed with hearing loss. For those who are on Facebook, why don't you take a peak?

It is true that those who are born deaf, have difficulty to understand how we ( late deafened) see deafness and do not see themselves as disabled.

There are organisations which support those who are deaf or hard of hearing. If anyone needs signposting, just send me private message :-)

TiggyOBE Wed 05-Feb-14 17:55:46

Big hugs OP!

The OP knows a deaf person who told her that it's not a disability.

What should the OP think? It's quite a tough step to turn to the deaf friend and tell them "What you think about your condition is wrong!". I would be pretty much guarantee the response "what the fuck do you know about being deaf?"

I'm in the 'It's a disability camp' BTW.

BasketzatDawn Wed 05-Feb-14 17:24:36

It could be argued that the making of wantonly stupid remarks on tinterweb should be defined a disability in law. Deafness certainly is. Your friend would also be defined as disabled in law, as there are things she can't do which normally hearing people can do without support. However, your friend has organised her life so that it is rich and fulfilled, IN SPITE of her disability, and I am pleased for her. She is ONE individual though, and she - and certainly not you - can talk for the whole community of bods with hearing loss. There is something disturbing and slightly dangerous in remarks like your, Op. Do you not think those of us with disabilities, whether hearing or other, are on the receiving end of enough disability bashing already? I have impaired hearing btw. I am disabled by it.

sicily1921 Wed 05-Feb-14 16:47:49

I can't believe you even posted this OP. It is such a blanket sweeping statement and will offend a lot of people I should imagine! Your title should have read something like being deaf is not a disability for my friend. It might not be a disability for your friend, she has adapted very well. However I think you would find it is a disability for a lot of deaf people, I used to live with one so I do speak from experience.

People can become deaf at different stages of there life, if you have been born deaf then obviously you can adapt easily. The person I lived with became deaf at the age of seventeen, can you imagine how awful that would be

Please think before you post stuff like this.

bionicmother Wed 05-Feb-14 15:54:56

I am someone who was born hearing and as a teenager have lost part of it. Never felt it stopped me from doing I wanted and I have not seen myself as more disabled than someone unable to walk for example, I was doing perfectly fine with a hearing aid. My view changed when I suddenly lost the remaining hearing in my 40's. It was the biggest set back in my life, life changing event. I have cochlear implant now and it helps me hear well. What I have experienced in the one year, when waiting for implant is just awful. So yes deafness is a disability there is no kidding ourselves.

SoleSource Wed 05-Feb-14 13:48:07

I am now totally deaf in my left ear. I have raging tinnitus in the left ear also. My accent has changed, I talk quietly, I often do not hear what people have said to me - especially whilst driving. It has changed me. I feel less confident because of it. I had meningitis at the age of thirty two in 2005. I think this has disabled a small part of me as hearing is one of our five senses!

Total hearing loss is a disability. Thankfully I can still hear and I am very grateful for this everyday.

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