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Myths about Deaf People
By Laura Benson
Minority groups are characterized by stereotypes; to this deaf people are no exception. The stereotypes surrounding deafness are largely as a result of ignorance, as people do not seem to be well versed with what deafness is and what it entails. In fact, just recently the DWP (Department for Work and Pensions) was accused of discrimination by requiring deaf people to use the telephone when making PIP claims. The DWP has since made an allowance for deaf people to make claims via their postal address instead. Below are a few other assumptions and myths about deaf people:
• All Deaf People Are Mute
In general, deaf people are able to produce some form of sound with their mouth. A good number of deaf people do not speak. Some shy away because it is difficult for people to understand them, while for others the complexity in determining the pitch of their own voice serves as a setback. To be proficient at oral communication, deaf people have to go to oral schools, where for years they are painstakingly taught how to speak.
• Deaf People Are Not Intelligent
Similar to the hearing population, there are some deaf people who have an intellectual disability. However, it cannot be concluded that all deaf people are not intelligent, or less intelligent than hearing people. There is no relation between deafness and intelligence.
• Deaf People Can Hear Using Hearing Aids
Hearing aids have helped many deaf people; however they are not useful for all deaf people. Hearing aids do not correct deafness or restore hearing, but instead amplify sound. For this reason, a hearing aid can help some deaf people decipher sounds and noises. The downside is that they magnify all noise, and hence it can be tricky for a deaf person with hearing aids to pick out certain sounds in a noisy environment.
• Deaf People Are Excellent Lip Readers
It is estimated that deaf people can understand approximately 30% of a conversation from lip reading. This can be attributed to many factors, such as that many speech sounds have similar lip and mouth movement, for instance p and b. However, when reading the lips of people they are familiar with, comprehension can be as high as 60%.
• All Deaf People Are Familiar With Sign Language
There are about 70 different kinds of sign language used by deaf people all over the world, for example British Sign Language, American Sign Language (used in America and some parts of Canada), French Sign Language, Italian sign language and so and so forth. Some deaf people are able to use a specific one or a blend of such systems.
• Deaf People Can Hear Me If I Shout
It is uncouth to shout at people, more so at deaf people. For some deaf people, especially those who use hearing aids, shouting can cause pain as the hearing aid amplifies the loud volume. Shouting can be interpreted as anger by a deaf person. Shouting also causes distortion of the lips, which may make it even more difficult for a lip reader to decipher what a person is trying to say.
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