Cultural Perspective on Deafness
Deaf and hearing people who adopt the cultural perspective embrace deafness as a unique difference and do not focus on the disability aspect. Sign language is “ok,” and in fact may be viewed as the natural language of deaf people, because visual communication is a natural way to respond when you can not hear.
Deafness is something to be proud of – aka deaf pride, or deafhood. In the cultural perspective, the actual degree of hearing loss does not matter. Hard of hearing people can call themselves deaf. Cochlear implants are considered a tool akin to hearing aids, and not a permanent fix for deafness.
Who Takes What View?
In an era where cultural deaf people opt for cochlear implants and embrace learning to talk and lipread, how do you distinguish between the two viewpoints? In my opinion, a good way to distinguish it might be through this example of parents with a deaf child:
- Parent A: My child is deaf. With a cochlear implant and good speech training, my child will learn to talk and will be mainstreamed. People will not be able to tell that my child is deaf.
- Parent B: My child is deaf. With both sign language and a cochlear implant, and good speech training, my child will be able to communicate with both hearing and deaf people. My child may or may not be mainstreamed. People may or may not be able to tell that my child is deaf, and it does not matter if they can or can not.