“Deafness is not a disability. It’s an identity. Deaf pride is something that is real and rich and powerful.” – Riz Ahmed


Stella Serayet, Reporter

This article is coming from a hearing person’s perspective, and so I can’t speak from experience, and I hope to simply raise awareness for various d/Deaf* perspectives. According to the Royal National Institute for Deaf People, in the UK alone, one in five adults have a hearing loss over 25 decibels (mild hearing loss). The majority of the world is hearing and rarely have to think about what it’s like to be deaf. This lack of awareness means that there is insufficient understanding of how to interact with deaf people in a helpful way. As a result, many services do not support their needs and, since deafness isn’t a visible disability, explaining their situation may be something deaf people have to do every day.

How must it feel to hang out with a big group of friends, all talking over each other, trying to lip read, or to participate in class debate, where you may not be able to see everyone’s face clearly to read their lips? How difficult must it be to feel integrated into a hearing world, when people lack awareness of your situation?

However, it’s important to mention that this is a problem with society for its lack of accessibility and accommodation for deaf people, not a problem with deaf people, who are in fact just as capable as hearing people, but simply have different needs and abilities. Deafness/loss of hearing should not be seen as a weakness, but rather a strength, as it makes people more resourceful and resilient as they’ve overcome many barriers and gives a sense of identity and belonging to a community. The Deaf community can give people a place where they feel understood and supported.

The concept of Deaf Gain is reforming the conceptions of deaf as a form of sensory and cognitive diversity that can contribute to the greater good of humanity. For example, instead of seeing the loss of hearing, why not see the gain of deafness. (Deaf Gain Article – this gives a more in depth look at this concept).The way hearing people see deafness is mostly based on imagination, the idea of how they would react if they lost their hearing, yet this leads to misconceptions and misunderstanding because this view is not based on deaf people’s experiences. (Discussed in a blog on the BBC – Ouch!)

Overtime, deaf representation in the media has become more common and improved, with many films now focusing on the deaf experience and others that feature deaf characters. While there is still a long way to go, here are some tv shows/films that do this:

· See Hear – A monthly programme on the BBC that started back in the 80s and focuses on the deaf community and covers a range of topics. It’s presented in BSL with subtitles.

· CODA – A film about a child of deaf adults (CODA) and a deaf brother which demonstrates the struggles in communication between deaf and hearing people. This shows deafness within a family but is quite a sad watch.

· Sound of Metal – A film about a musician that suddenly loses his hearing, struggles to accept this and joins a Deaf community. This is interesting to find out more about Deaf culture.

· A Quiet Place, Hawkeye and A Silent Voice are all some more examples of films/tv shows that have a main character that’s deaf or hard of hearing.

There is such a thing as hearing privilege – as with race, gender, etc – which hearing people should recognise and acknowledge, since society has been constructed to suit the need of this majority.Whilst this leaves the d/Deaf minority disadvantaged, most do not appreciate being pitied. Of course, Deaf people, just like hearing people, are all different, so everyone will have different experiences and opinions. Deaf people should not be put in a box of misinformed presumptions; the best way to make everyone feel supported is to listen, understand and be kind to whoever you meet, deaf or hearing.

Here are some interesting videos with more information on deaf awareness, from deaf people: Dos and Don’ts of Interacting with the Deaf Community [CC] – YouTube Being Deaf In A Hearing World | Shiona Explains What It’s Really Like | BBC The Social – YouTube

*d/Deaf – refers to both deaf people (people that are physically deaf) and Deaf people (people that see deafness as a part of their identity and are culturally deaf)