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Monday, March 25, 2013

Is Deafness Not Really a Disability?

Growing up, I have never considered myself disabled even though I do have a hearing loss. Knowing I was fully capable of doing anything I put my mind to, I did not feel there was any correlation between deafness and disability. Disability means you are not able to do things physically and mentally. Are the people who are only hearing impaired able-bodied? If so, then why are they viewed as a disability? Legally, Deaf people are considered as ones of the people with disabilities by the governments because they are dealing with so many challenges and discrimination in employment. Therefore, they are placed on welfare.

The meaning of disability can mean different things to different people, but here is the real disability definition quoted below:



  1. A physical or mental condition that limits a person's movements, senses, or activities.
  2. A disadvantage or handicap, esp. one imposed or recognized by the law.
incapacity - incapability - inability - incompetence"

Does this meaning of disability define Deaf people? Are they incapable of doing anything? There are senses that prevent you from doing something, and that is what you'd call a disability, but there's only one sense we obviously don't have. We have lost only one sense that is sound, and that's it. Yeah. Whoops, big deal.

That's why I've never thought of myself as one of the people with disabilities.


Things changed the way I viewed myself when I started a college. I was the only Deaf student in all hearing classes. I was always treated differently by my instructors and classmates. They pitied and talked down to me. I thought, "Wow, my deafness scared them that much?"

Obviously, many Deaf people have their own perceptions about disability. They hate this term because it sounds negative and it does not define them at all. They do feel deafness is a blessing for them because they do have their own culture and language. When there's a language, there's a culture.

On the other hand...

Some people, including both hearing and Deaf people, believe deafness is a disability because we have hearing assistance technology and sign language interpreter. You'll be not considered disabled if you don't need any help at all. If you can't do a job of answering the telephone, then you are considered disabled. 

Before you object to the disability label, there is one question for you to consider. If you were to tell your government that you are not disabled and they would say, "You're not disabled? Okay, we'll take away your disability benefits", what would be your response to that?


  1. I subscribe to the yes area, we ARE Disabled, especially if loss is acquired, there is the primary divider. I have never subscribed to the social angle, in that we are only disabled by everyone else, I think that is illogical and untrue.

    Of course discrimination exists, but it applies to born and deafened people, is is a common theme, but the actual loss is a disablement, no amount of empathy can get around it,you will need help support and in many cases counselling to cope too.

    We can do everything except hear, nice rhetoric but the world revolves around sound and hearing, only with us does it not. Factually if you reject the disabled TAG in the UK, you get no welfare or other support at all. Shows you how limited the rights application really is... you have to reject your deafness first.

    1. Very interesting insight. Thanks for sharing your opinion.