Deaf studies

Debunked: stereotypes and myths about Deaf people

Stereotype is "an attitude, belief, feeling, or assumption about a person or group of people that are widespread and socially sanctioned; though stereotypes can be positive and negative, they all have negative effects because they support institutionalized oppression by validating oversimplified beliefs that are often not based on facts" -- Ref

Scenarios in the Wild

Some of these myths and stereotypes are some common everyday over-generalized beliefs, assumptions, and misconceptions about Deaf people.

Stereotype: Deaf people are poorly literate

Myth/Stereotype: Deaf people have poor literarcy. Or they are expected to be lowly literate. Because of deafness, it's hard to learn to read and write English (or other languages) fluently.

Debunked: Deaf people, who were not deprived of language through eye, have high literacy and are fluent in languages (ASL, English, and/or other languages). Many Deaf people, who never hear nor wear hearing devices, are highly fluent in written English and highly literate. Because, language is amodal (brain-based, not speech-based).

Stereotype: Deaf people have lowly jobs.

Debunked: Deaf people come from all walks of life: teachers, doctors, cook, lawyers, professional athletes, auto mechanics, researchers, artists, authors, programmers, you name it. Even peddlers (Why not? We've seen hearing bums anywhere). The issue is not deafness itself but the systemic discrimination and individual prejudice.

Stereotype: Deaf people are less intelligent.

Debunked: Deaf people are on the similar distribution or bell curve of intelligence quotient as hearing people. The majority of deaf people are normal. Some are not that smart; some are genius. There are some deaf people who are very smart and intelligently emotional but are deprived of language development in early years of life in name of "speech", banning sign language, so don't underestimate them based on their limited communication.

Stereotype/myth: Hearing aids or cochlear implants cure deafness.

Hearing devices don't restore hearing. Surprised? They amplify sound for deaf people to hear but that don't mean all of deaf people can perceive or process the patterns of sounds nor decode the sounds into words. It takes either many years or never to understand and recognize the patterns of sounds.

Stereotype/myth: Lipreading is the mode of communication.

The best lipreaders can lipread up to the average of 30% or so and make guesses of the rest. Some deaf people prefer communication by typing on phone, writing on paper, or emails for everyday needs. Interpreters and, for some, captioners may be required in legal, medical, and educational settings as well as provided at meetings in workplace.

Stereotype: Deaf drivers are dangerous.

Debunked: Statistically, Deaf drivers have fewer accidents than hearing drivers. Overall, they are safer and better drivers with sharper visions and larger peripheral visions. They are more visually aware and sensitive of the surroundings. Emergency lights are visual. Overall, the pros outperform little cons. Of course, like hearing people, there may be very few, though rarely, deaf bonkers who are prone to accidents; I knew one. And, a few ones may be distracted. No flawless, but greater, statistically speaking.

Stereotype Threat

Stereotype threat refers to the risk of confirming negative stereotypes about an individual's racial, ethnic, gender, or cultural group.

"When people are aware of a negative stereotype about their group, they often worry that their performance on a particular task might end up confirming other people’s beliefs about their group. Psychologists use the term stereotype threat to refer to this state in which people are worried about confirming a group stereotype." Source

Like bonker drivers I mentioned above. :) For example, if a Deaf driver got in an accident, she/he probably felt anxious for being looked at as a bad driver because of their deafness.

Related posts

If you haven't seen it, learn about microaggression and some examples.

On the positive side, explore Deaf gain rather than 'loss'.

Review audism as a fundamental if you're not familiar with it. Explore dysconscious audism for deaf people who might not be aware of internalizing audism.

New to sign language? "Where do I start?" or "How do I start learning sign language?" This ASL Rookie guide lists some selected links to the tutorials for ASL beginners to get started and keep rolling. It may be a useful review for intermediate-level learners and ASL students as well.

Some tutorial pages are a mix of free and premium versions. Access to premium content and links below are available in the PatronPlus subscription. More links/posts will be added from time to time.

Expressing needs and wants

  1. Making commands or requests

Talking about activities

  1. Frequency of time: how often?

Are you able to carry everyday conversations in ASL? Are you a student in the intermediate levels and beyond, who wishes to boost up your signing skills? You've come to the selected tutorial series. (Some premium content are available to PatronPlus membership.)

Stories, poems, performance arts, etc. in sign language.

This documentation project follows a child's language acquisition, literacy development, and phonological acquisition in sign language, specifically ASL, from newborn to age five in a natural native-ASL environment and visual culture.