Pathological Views of Deafness
Deaf History 10/11/2011 Pathological Views of Deafness This article examined the two major conflicting views of deafness, the medical view and the social view. The article also goes in depth about the causes of deafness and the implications of the different impacts on deaf individuals depending on when they became deaf. Blindness and muscular ailments are also addressed. According to the author those who see deafness from the medical view see it as an affliction, as if deaf people are broken and need to be fixed.
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The social perspective instead focuses on what the deaf individual is capable of rather than what they are incapable. The description of the conflict is reminiscent of that between Galludet and Bell. The decision of whether conformation or personal success is more important is paramount to the argument. The article progresses to speaking of the wave of attempts to teach sign language to apes. The most successful learned many signs but non could use them in the form of a language. They could not invent sentences or pass signs on to the next generation.
This distinguishes the difference between animal’s ability to communicate and human’s ability to use language. The rest of this section is spent breaking down the mechanics of the ear and how it is used to interpret sound. The understanding of the increasing complexity of the ear for each level inward helps to both highlight how amazing it is that as many people have hearing as do, as well as how much is required to repair hearing damage and how little can be done for inner ear damage.
Cochlear implants are the only method that can allow “hearing” for an individual with damage to the inner ear. They do this by bypassing the outer and middle ear and attaching directly to the nerves in the inner ear. This only allows for a small amount of frequencies compared to the thousands that a fully working ear can detect, however. The risks of cochlear implants are also mentioned. For example, the surgery used to implant them can cause nerve damage destroying someones ability to smell or control a side of their face.
The surgery can also lead to issues balancing do to loss of cochlear fluid. Socio-educational impacts are also discussed in that having an implant can make an individual less willing to learn sign despite not being fully hearing, and therefore having many benefits in knowing sign. The discussion of implants ends in speaking of the impact of implants in infants and how it could bring an end to the deaf community. The remainder of the article is spent speaking of vision loss and ailments affecting ones ability to use manualism.
I feel that this is much further from the point of the rest of the article and so will leave it at that. I found this article very interesting and learned quite a lot about cochlear implants that I did not previously know. I had no idea, for example, that they were as limited as they are. This article has also brought me to introspect about how my own views of what it is to be deaf have changed since I have become more familiar with the community that surrounds it. I feel it is the default opinion, for a hearing person who is uneducated in deaf culture, to use the medical perspective.
Previous to becoming acquainted with the culture I would have assumed that any deaf person would desire the ability to hear on any level available. It is clear that this is simply not the case, and for good reason. Just as I do not with to be deaf and be forced to give up major parts of my culture, primarily music, I would not expect the inverse of a member of the deaf community. I feel that this article does a good job of distinguishing the difference between a disability and a difference. Being outside of the mainstream does not make someone less capable or accomplished as a person.
Primarily I feel that this article is important, however, for the understanding it brings by helping the reader to truly understand both sides of what a cochlear implant does and by underlining that in the respect of assimilation to the deaf community and the ability to communicate through sign these implants could be seen as setbacks. This article ranges quite widely in what it addresses, it does very well in creating understanding in all areas it speaks. This article could be very important to the deaf community and I feel it would be wise for it to be in a venue in which more hearing people would read it.