Suppression of Development, Diversity and Independence in
Education and Socialization of the Deaf
"We [have] had enough of hearing teachers trying to make us hearing people. [...] We have a language - American Sign Language - but they refuse to recognize it." (Ubelacker, 1988, para. 16)
The use of Oralism in educational, medical and societal settings is culturally and socially suppressive for the Deaf community. Oralism rejects any form of sign language, and imposes the hearing world’s ideals on the Deaf. The medical world has a strong desire to find ways to fix Deafness, or at force Deaf people to integrate into the hearing world. When educators and parents of Deaf children look to medical professionals for help and guidance, often they are strongly encouraged to use Oralism; however, this form of communication has received strong criticism from the Deaf community. Not only is Oralism frustrating, exhausting and stressful, it also detracts from the strong and vibrant history which Deaf people enthusiastically hold dear. While doctors stress integrating Deaf people into the hearing community, studies show this assimilation is not always successful. The use of Oralism may be destructive to a person’s overall self-confidence, happiness and initiative. Deaf activists argue that Deafness should not have negative connotations, nor should it be fixed. Deaf people have the right to embrace their Deafness, and communicate through American Sign Language (ASL).
Oralism is a communicative approach to raising and educating Deaf children, which focuses on lip-reading, speech-therapy, and mechanical aids where residual hearing is present (Smith, 1987, para. 8). This form of communication discourages sign language and hand gesture...
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... sign language as the primary form of communication. However, many medical professions still recommend Oralism and placement into hearing schools. Deaf advocates emphasize the need for more qualified people to give advice to hearing parents and teachers of Deaf children, rather than professionals who strictly see Deafness as a problem. Ultimately, it is a parent’s decision how to raise a child, and Deaf advocates do not argue this fact. They simply ask that parents and teachers explore every form of communication for their child, “acknowledge and accept their child 's Deafness, and help their child to do the same” (Biderman & Gartner, 1998, para. 16). Only by accepting Deafness, and acknowledging that every person, Deaf or hearing, has the right to education in their own language, can we, as a society, recognize and encourage diversity, multiculturalism and equality.
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