Facts: “the Silent World”

What is the “Silent World”?

When we use this term we mean Deaf and hard-of-hearing people and members of their families. This includes about one out of every four households in America. Their biggest struggle is communication, but then, that affects virtually all human interaction and relationships. If you’re not in this group already, you might be someday. Here are some facts.

Facts about the “Silent World”

People in the “Silent World”

Hard-of-Hearing
These people have substantial, but not complete, hearing loss and they rely mainly on English to communicate with others. Most commonly they lost their hearing after acquiring speech, but as their ability to hear diminishes they need assistive technologies or strategies to interact with others effectively. These people are often in a social "no man’s land" – they find it hard to communicate with hearing people, but they don't know sign language so they often feel like they don't really fit in anywhere.
Oralists
These are deaf people who don't use sign language. They rely on lip reading and other methods for information. Again, these people are also often in a social "no man’s land" for while they don't really identify with the hearing world, they don't exactly fit in to the Deaf world, either. That's why it's very unusual for deaf people educated in oralism programs NOT to learn sign language at some point.
Deaf
(Upper case "D") People who use sign language as their primary language and consider themselves part of the socio-linguistic group known as the Deaf. (For this reason the word "Deaf" is usually capitalized when referring to this specific and identifiable cultural group, just as we would capitalize the names of other cultural groups such as Navajo Indians, Australians, or Italian-Americans. When referring to deaf people in general, or the condition of deafness, the lower case "d" is used.) English reading and writing skills vary depending on the educational environment to which they were exposed.
CODAs
This stands for "Child Of Deaf Adult." These are hearing people who have at least one deaf parent. They've lived with one foot in the deaf world and one foot in the hearing world and often find themselves torn between those two identities. CODAs have unique issues to deal with, and for many it takes years to work out some of those issues.
Hearing Parents of Deaf Children
Most of these parents start out knowing nothing about the deaf world. They're confused by competing opinions, they're often unaware of resources, and they're often frustrated by the educational and linguistic challenges of raising a deaf child. Many times they carry a great deal of guilt. They also feel alone in their struggle, as do most parents of special needs children.
Hearing Siblings of Deaf People
Many of these people feel they must always compete with the deaf child for the attention of the parents. They often learn sign language better than the parents and are then relied on as interpreters between the parents and their deaf siblings. In this environment it is easy for resentments to take root and grow.
"Mixed" Marriages
Hearing people and deaf people who decide to marry face a number of issues, including a lot of "hidden" ones, as they try to blend deaf and hearing cultures and lifestyles and families together. They need a great deal of support, but finding that support is often difficult.

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