Lacking a fundamental sense, such as sight or hearing, is a very challenging obstacle. Dealing with such is made even more difficult by the stigma that society associates with the disabled. Even in the contemporary world, where inclusion is supposedly at its peak in human history, people still see forms of discrimination against the deaf and other disabled individuals. With millions of people around the world who are deaf or hard of hearing, this means that multitudes still suffer continuously from all the prejudice against them.
Much of the stigma associated with deafness is due to ignorance. By further understanding the plight of the deaf and how stigma against them arises, it becomes possible to create solutions that will help protect them from further discrimination.
Mechanisms Of Deafness
Deafness is a complex condition that can be brought about by myriad factors. Irma M Munoz-Baell and co-author wrote that, “hearing loss is a very complex phenomenon, which has many and serious consequences for people and involves many factors and issues that should be carefully examined.”
Most commonly, deafness occurs gradually as a person ages. However, it may also be congenital, or it may suddenly arise anytime during the life of an individual. It may be due to genetics, infection, or exposure to overwhelmingly loud sounds. It may be a purely physical problem, caused by damage to the parts of the auditory system, or it might signify a mental disorder.
The point is that deafness is a complicated condition that can be hard to understand for some people. This misunderstanding can then give rise to stigma.
Misunderstanding And Ignorance
When some people encounter deaf people, they tend to jump to unfair conclusions. As deaf people may have trouble understanding communication, they may be dismissed as ignorant or stupid. Unlike many other disabilities, deafness is mostly invisible, making it less likely for people to recognize that they do have a disability. People may believe that they are only pretending to not listen to them during conversations when in fact they really cannot hear the person properly.
Isolation And Discrimination
“Stigma appears to play a role in-group formation, particularly in minority group formation,” Megan A. Jones, Ph.D. said. Because of the communication hurdles of being deaf or hard of hearing, people who have auditory problems are usually forced into relative isolation. They have a harder time in social interactions than other people. Some people also believe they will be less likely to provide adequate work, less productive than other people, or be a nuisance. As a result, they may be glossed over during job applications, refused admission into social circles, or even refused entry into establishments.
Due to their disability, the deaf may be unable to enjoy amenities other people can enjoy. Many people do not go with the trouble of ensuring their products and services are accessible to the deaf. As a result, the deaf community is further isolated from a society that does not seem to care about them.
However, times are changing. Governments are passing and enforcing laws that ban discrimination against the deaf. People with auditory problems are starting to form their social groups. They are speaking out for their rights, alongside their loved ones and other supporters who are fighting for greater inclusion. Many are also getting adequate help from platforms like BetterHelp, which allows them to get their message across digitally.
To be able to confront the stigma that surrounds them, they can take comfort in the fact that they are not alone in their struggles and that they are part of a caring and supportive community. Gaylene Becker, Ph.D. explains that “deaf identity and the development of a social support system are two factors that intervene positively in the management of stigma.” Finally, they need to realize that their disability does not reduce their fundamental humanity. Deaf or otherwise, they are still people who can surpass their limits and reach for their dreams.