Deaf Culture #4

Cochlear Implants are widely accepted by the Deaf community?

This is false, but it can be a confusing issue.  While people with Cochlear Implants are widely accepted in the Deaf community, the decision to implant yourself or your child is not accepted.  The practice of getting an implant is rejected because of what it represents.  The Deaf community views being Deaf as a privilege, something to be celebrated, and an implant shows just how far a person (or their parents) are willing to go to not be “different”.  The Deaf community sees the implants as someone trying to become part of the hearing population, and thus rejecting the Deaf community.  This is because, in most cases, the parents (usually Hearing) decided to have their child implanted at a young age, before they could make the choice themselves.  This is perpetuated by the fact that most doctors do not inform hearing parents of the supports that can be found within the Deaf community, or the successes of someone who uses ASL.  Instead, they offer a “cure” for deafness.  Often, the Deaf see implanting children as taking away their choice, forcing them to be hearing and never letting them experience Deafness.

“Sound and Fury” is an excellent documentary about this very issue that can give you a better insight into the thoughts, feelings, and even politics, behind this controversy.


Deaf people do not consider themselves as handicapped?

True!  As previously stated, being Deaf is a badge of honor.  In almost every city that houses a Deaf community, you will also find a Deaf Club.  This is a place for Deaf to gather to celebrate their deafness, make friends, air complaints, even hold events such as campouts, bowling and card tournaments, or fundraisers.  The pride in being Deaf even goes so far as to be proud when it is continued for another generation.  As strange as it may sound, while hearing parents anxiously await the results of the infant hearing test, praying that it’s positive, Deaf parents generally feel the opposite, hoping that their child is Deaf.  A common phrase in the community is “I can do everything except hear.”  Deaf children are taught to be proud of themselves, and to see their differences as a benefit, rather than a hindrance.


Gallaudet University is the only liberal arts college for the deaf?

True! Gallaudet University is a federally chartered establishment located in Washington, D.C. and is named for Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet, one of the founding fathers of Deaf education in the US.  The school was established in 1857 as a grammar school and was given the ability to grant college degrees by Congress in 1864.  It wasn’t until 1986 that it’s name was officially changed from the “Columbia Institution for the instruction of the Deaf and Dumb” to “Gallaudet University”.

Today Gallaudet University houses approximately 2,000 students both here and abroad, and, while Graduate Studies are open to Deaf, Hard of Hearing, and Hearing students, only 5% of the incoming undergraduates accepted may be Hearing.  As such, Gallaudet University remains the only university in the world to teach exclusively to the Deaf community.


The huddle in football was invented by deaf football players?

Interestingly enough, this is true!  The quarterback of the Gallaudet University football team in 1892, Paul D. Hubbard, invented the huddle.  Hubbard realized that using Sign Language to communicate the teams plays could be understood by the opposing team, especially because they often played other Deaf teams.  He created the huddle as a way to communicate to his teammates while shielding their plans from the other team and the spectators.


The Deaf community believes they can do anything except hear?

This is true.  As previously stated, deafness is not seen as a disability.  Because of this belief, most self-imposed limits have been dissolved and, consequently, success rates for the Deaf have risen.  The Deaf have become very adept at problem solving to overcome any obstacles that are put in their way.  The biggest obstacle that is currently being attempted is convincing the general population that the Deaf community is as able as they believe themselves to be.