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The Barrier Between the Deaf Community and the Hearing Community

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When the concept of being deaf is brought into the light, many people turn their heads at the situation. Hearing loss has affected about 48 million people in the United States. Hearing loss can occur at birth or can develop later in life. Some congenital causes might lead to hearing loss which can be present at birth or soon after. Loss of hearing can be caused by hereditary factors that play into the development of a child or unknown complications during childbirth or during the pregnancy term. Acquired causes for hearing loss can be caused by infections, collection of fluid in the ear, injury to the head, excessive noise or even ageing. In the television show, ‘Switched at Birth’ developed hearing loss because she obtained menignios at three-year-old. Hearing loss can pose many challenges in everyday life. The most common challenge is the reduced ability to understand other people because of the communication barrier. This challenge can make interactions with hearing individuals and making connections outside of the deaf community quite difficult. Treatment is another challenge that affects many people because the cost of implants can leave your wallet empty, resulting in many people not choosing to seek help.

The television show ‘Switched at birth’ is the tale of two families that had their daughters switched at the hospital, resulting in them not knowing about their biological families till 17 years later. In the first few episodes you see for the beginning that the major problem between the two families is that one of the daughters is deaf. Daphnie become deaf at the age of three and her biological parents have yet to accept the fact that she is different and not perfect. Daphnies non biological mother has accepted the fact that she will never be like other kids and has accepted her for the way she is. Her biological parents continue to push her to attend a mainstream school and even offered to pay for a cochlear implant but her denied both offers. Switched at Birth continues to show the barrier between the deaf community and the hearing community and shows that difficulties that lie in the hearing world for deaf individuals.

Imagine teaching a student that is inattentive, behaves poorly in class, obtaining bad grades, and does not seem to fit in well with the other students. Most people would correspond this behavior to ADHD or ADD but few people think to consider the possibility of hearing loss. Regardless of the severity or the age, loss of hearing has a large negative effect on a student’s academic performance and social development. People with this disability have difficulties attending regular public schools. In 1817 the first school for the deaf was founded in West Hartford, Connecticut by Thomas Gallaudet. Specialized schools that tailor towards the deaf and blind can provide those students with the proper attention needed to help them become successful. While a part of a deaf school hard of hearing students often find it easier to socialize with other people and interact with their trained teachers. Unlike mainstream schools the need of an interpreter is unnecessary. Deaf schools offer impaired students the opportunity to participate in after school activities and team sports that would not be offered to them in a mainstream school. Classrooms are typically smaller in a deaf school to better fit and benefits student’s needs. While Deaf schools seem to be the go-to solution, many students who are deaf choose not to attend a Deaf and blind school. “Over 75% of deaf or hard-of-hearing (DHH) students in the U.S. are mainstreamed in public school programs” (Antia, 2013). Many mainstream schools offer greater education which include a wider variety of subjects that include fine arts such as drama classes. The major difference between deaf and mainstream schools is the separation between the deaf community and the hearing community. Being a part of a mainstream school will offer more opportunities to socialize with hearing peers and experience the tendencies of hearing individuals. The television show ‘Switched at Birth’ highlighted daphnies want to stay at a deaf rather than go to a public school. While I believe that mainstream education is important, I also think that the decision between a mainstream school and deaf school should be decided based on the individuals personality. While 75% of deaf students attend mainstream schools but that does not mean that all of them are thriving in a mixed environment. Both education opportunities have positives to them in the end the decision should be made to best benefit the individuals personality and needs.

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The recent technological advancement to help the hard of hearing is amazing. The advances in the hearing device have improved the four most common implants, cochlear implant, bone-anchored device, the middle-ear implant, and the hybrid cochlear implant. Such devices are not to be considered as hearing aids because hearing aids only amplify sound. “Hearing aids only amplify sounds. These devices bypass the outer ear and either translate sounds into vibrations delivered to the middle ear or electrical impulses delivered directly to the inner ear” (aarp.org). Each implant is suited to help a specific hearing loss but what they do share is the heafy cost that comes with the devices and surgical procedures. The newest implant available today is the Hybrid cochlear implant, this benefits individuals who can only distinguish low pitch sounds and have lost the ability to hear sounds at a higher pitch. The implant has the ability to combine the functions of a hearing aid to directly improves the perception of low frequency sounds and stimulates the high frequency hearing nerves. Some people who experience single sided deafness and this is normally stemmed from a benign tumor that has affected the auditory nerve. People who experience this are qualified for a bone-anchored device. This devices uses a titanium implant that is attached to the implant and uses magnets to send sound vibrations to the inner ear. Individuals who experience moderate to severe hearing loss and have tried and turned down generic hearing aids turn to the Middle ear implant. The implant does not have the same plugged up feeling or the annoying sound of feedback. The only way a candidate can be eligible for this implant is if he or she has attempted to use a hearing aid before. The implant is a fully implanted device which consists of a receiver that is just below the skin and another part that is attached to the bones of the middle ear. The receiver uses vibrations to send signals to the inner ear. The implant requires the battery to be changed every five years. The major down fall with the implant is that it is not covered by most insurance companies. “Invasive procedure; requires surgery and recovery time. Costs about $15,000-$30,000 per ear. Not covered by Medicare; some private insurers may pay. Cannot have an MRI” (Gandel). This means that eligible respitants are subjected to pay the full amount for this implant. The last implant is the most popular among the deaf community and is sought as the most expensive. The Cochlear implant is for individuals who suffer from severe to profound loss of hearing and cannot benefit from the traditional use of hearing aids. The implant uses external and internal components, the external part is a magnetic disk that is connected to another implanted disk under the skin. The components use electrical energy to stimulate both high and low frequency nerve cells. The invention of different hearing aids and implant devices has revolutionized the way that hard of hearing people can process sound and reconnect them to the rest of the world. Some people would gladly accept the expenses that come with each device, but some hard of hearing individuals are completely okay with the fact that they cannot hear the outside world. Just like the relationship between mainstream schools and deaf schools, an implant is completely up to the descension of the user. In the television show Daphlne rejected the offer of a cochlear implant even though it would significantly improve and make her life easier. Many people who have experienced hearing loss at a young age have come to see that the ability of hearing aids not important and would rather stick to what they are used to.

While there is a present communication barrier between the deaf community and the hearing community, deaf people have developed and learned two main ways of communicating with others. Lip reading and sign language are two strategies that take both time and practice for a deaf individual to learn. The technique of lip reading is understand by visually interpreting the movements of other people’s lips and tongues. When a hearing individual is lip reading it is important information that they know and understand the topic because of the auditorily boundary it can become difficult to distinguish different words without hearing the word. “Only 30% of spoken English can be accurately lip read (even by the best lip reader who has been deaf for many years). This makes it very hard for a deaf person to correctly read the speaker’s lips. This is because many words cannot be differentiated as they have the same lip pattern” (hearing dogs). Even with the barrier that come with lip reading many individuals still peruse lip reading over sign language. It is most commonly used by individuals who were born hearing and have gradually lost their hearing over time. The most common form of communication is sign language, there are many different forms of sign language and the style differs based on your location. ASL is a visual language which uses hands, facial expressions and body language to communicate. One of the most important components to sign language is expressions, the facial expressions are called non-manual markers. Non-manual markers include facial expressions, head tilt, a shake of the head, and eye brow position. By using expressions, it can help the reader to determine if what being signed is a question or if it is just a yes or no answer. Regardless of the communication barrier when interacting with a deaf individual it is important to understand that it might take longer for him or her to understand the conversation. For someone to effectively read lips the speaker must speak slowly and avoid using shortcuts and acronyms. When communicating within the boundary it is more effective to use sign language because there is a higher chance that each person knows how to sign.

People with any type of disabilities will draw unwanted attention when in front of other people. Every disability is different and the setbacks are different for each. As referenced in the show, Daphne calls being deaf a superpower, demonstrating that she is unique in her very own ways. I personally think that being deaf is interesting and it takes a strong individual to work harder than other students at school and just in daily activities. With the further development of technology, deaf education and the growing popularity of ASL in hearing communities the communication barrier continue will continue to shrink. With that said efforts by hearing communities to get to know what it’s like to live without hearing and instead of waiting for them to adapt to our social norms we should make an attempt to learn theirs.

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The Barrier Between the Deaf Community and the Hearing Community. (2022, August 25). Edubirdie. Retrieved January 28, 2023, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/the-barrier-between-the-deaf-community-and-the-hearing-community/
“The Barrier Between the Deaf Community and the Hearing Community.” Edubirdie, 25 Aug. 2022, edubirdie.com/examples/the-barrier-between-the-deaf-community-and-the-hearing-community/
The Barrier Between the Deaf Community and the Hearing Community. [online]. Available at: <https://edubirdie.com/examples/the-barrier-between-the-deaf-community-and-the-hearing-community/> [Accessed 28 Jan. 2023].
The Barrier Between the Deaf Community and the Hearing Community [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Aug 25 [cited 2023 Jan 28]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/the-barrier-between-the-deaf-community-and-the-hearing-community/
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