Models of Deafness - Cultural Model - Cultural Deafness and The Medical Model

Cultural Deafness and The Medical Model

In contrast to the medical model of Deafness, the deaf community, rather than embrace the view that deafness is a "personal tragedy", sees all aspects of the deaf experience as positive. The birth of a deaf child is seen as a cause for celebration and deaf people are known to travel great distances to see a deaf child.

Deaf people point to the perspective on child rearing they share with hearing people. Both hearing and deaf parents understand that it is easier for a hearing parent to raise a hearing child because of their intimate understanding of the hearing state of being. It follows that a deaf parent will have an easier experiences raising a deaf child since deaf parents have an intimate understanding of the deaf state of being. Evidence of deaf parental success is revealed in scholastic achievement. Deaf children who have deaf parents that communicate in sign language perform better than all other deaf children in academic achievement and acquisition of the majority language regardless of the manner in which the children adapted to deafness. This includes children who adapted using speech and lipreading, prosthetic devices such as the cochlear implant, artificial language systems such as Signing Exact English and Cued Speech, and hearing aid technology.

According to research in the social sciences, membership in the deaf community is a matter of culturally determined behaviors and not of medical diagnosis. Thus membership is not seen as the act of admittance by an insider group or even by anyone at all, but by examining individual behavior to determine how closely it resembles the known culturally determined behaviors found in the community of deaf people. Since sign language stands as the single most valued aspect of deaf culture, it reveals whether an individual belongs to this language minority in the same manner as embracing the Spanish language reveals identity with Hispanic-American culture, another example of a language minority. Groups disadvantaged by majority culture and practices, such as the deaf community, have commonalities with other groups. For example, people with disabilities, gay people, and women are not linguistic minorities, as are members of the deaf community, since their culturally determined behaviors do not center on a unifying language as in the communities of Hispanic-Americans and Native-Americans. Gay culture and American deaf culture, both of which experience the disadvantages of being minority cultures, bear resemblance to one another in that most members of these two minority groups do not share their minority identity with their parents and cannot develop it at home. However, gay culture does not rally around a unifying language as is seen with a minority language group like the community of deaf people.

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