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”
- There are about 32 million Americans with some form of hearing loss. Of these around 17 million are under the age of 62.
- The number of Americans who are severely to profoundly deaf is over 6 million.
- 90% of deaf people have parents with “normal” hearing, yet it’s estimated that fewer than one out of 10 of those “hearing” parents can carry on a conversation with their child in sign language.
- The native language of Deaf people in the US is American Sign Language (ASL). It’s the third most-used language in North America.
- Deaf people who use ASL as their primary language really have a distinct and unique culture with their own heroes, legends, social customs, stories, jokes, and shared goals and experiences.
- Fewer than 8 out of every 100 deaf people in the US ever attend church. Fewer than 4 out of 100 claim a personal relationship with Christ.
- The Deaf community has been listed by a number of missions organizations as the largest unreached people group in North America.
People in the “Silent World”
|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.|
|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.|
|(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.|
|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.|
|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.|