Language Pathologists And The Deaf Community Essay

Language Pathologists And The Deaf Community Essay

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Although audition is the key differentiating characteristic between Deaf and hearing individuals, from this stems many other differences. One of such differences is the use of speech. Differing viewpoints concerning speech has led to tension between the hearing and Deaf community, especially as it relates to the acquisition of language. These tensions can be exemplified in the tensions between speech-language pathologists and the Deaf community. Speech pathologists are professionals with the aim “to address communication effectiveness, communication disorders, differences, and delays due to a variety of factors including those that may be related to hearing loss” (“Roles of Speech-Language Pathologists” 2). They study and treat disorders that are related to speech and spoken language, and hearing loss is seen as one of the causes of those disorders. “Deaf” with a capital “D” discussed here is used to describe a cultural community. The community is based not only on their deafness but also on shared language and experiences like other cultural groups (). Tension exits between these two groups concerning speech as seen by the differences in the perceptions towards speech, modes of communication, and goals in attaining language.
In the perspective of speech pathologists, speech is a fundamental enabler. Therefore, it follows that speech is viewed positively. It is fundamental in the sense that everyone has the inherent ability to speak. Lim and Simser in their discussion of therapy for children with hearing impairment write that “as human beings we are neurologically wired to develop spoken language” (308). In beginning their claim with the condition, “as human beings,” they exemplify the belief of many speech pathologists and hear...


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...primary mode, and they do not strive for a hearing identity. It is important to note that these viewpoints are not universal and cannot be generalized to all individuals. Each individual experience is different and many might hold combinations or neither of these two views. Additionally, the discourse concerning is speech is a very complex one and well defined boundaries do not exist between the two sides (Scheetz 113-115). There exists a gradient, some utilizing a combination of signs and speech as a method of communication. It might also be that there is an increasing awareness of the the other viewpoints. However, this simplified model, in which the division between speech pathologists and Deaf individuals are accentuated, aids in understanding the complex discourse. It serves as way to more easily see the general reasons for the tension that exists between them.

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