Eugenics and Deaf in the 20th Century

Credit: Wisconsin Historical Society.

Eugenics practice varies in forms of sterilization, infertility, segregation, abortion, euthanasia, and such.

Deaf people have been aware of the eugenics movement of the past alongside the lines of medicalization and hearingization.

Murder and sterilization of deaf people were commonly practiced in Nazi Germany. "During the Nazi era, Germanisation turned into a policy of ethnic cleansing and later into the genocide of some non-German ethnic groups." -- . In the Nazi regime, Deaf people were deemed unworthy of life by the Nazis.

Alexander G. Bell (1847-1922) was an oralist proponent and eugenicist. He advocated the elimination of sign language, the removal of deaf teachers and administrators, and the elimination of residential schools in order to reduce the deaf race through oralism and mainstream.

In Audism Unveiled, a story was told that a Deaf man chatted with a Deaf couple and asked why the couple couldn't have a child. When the mother gave birth to a stillborn, her father privately talked with the doctor to perform sterilization on the mother for the fear of more deaf grandchildren. When the mother later found out and was infuriated, the couple moved out of the state away from their parents.

In the 1980s at a deaf school in North America, a Deaf teacher noticed a male Deaf student/immigrant taking a pill regularly. The boy didn't know what it was for. The school sent the drug sample for lab testing. When the lab report arrived, the result showed that the pill was for infertility. The boy stopped taking the pills.

In the 2000s, a highly educated bilingual Deaf couple were in a doctor's office. The doctor asked if they wanted a prenatal genetic testing to determine whether their baby was deaf so they could decide whether to have an abortion.

Mainstream laws, closing deaf schools, the ban of sign language in oral educational settings, cochlear implants, and others are still the practice of the modern days of the shadow intention of eugenics, much similar to Bell's strategies.

Related posts: Alexander G. Bell, hearing colonialism, phonocentrism.

Positive resistance: de-hearingization, Deaf Gain, Allyship, Martha Vineyard's Island where everyone spoke in sign language, resistance against hearing oppression.