Top 10 worst beliefs about deafness revealed

NDCS-logoThe National Deaf Children’s Society (NDCS) has revealed a Top 10 list of some of the worst beliefs about deafness that exist in the UK today.

The shocking list of assumptions have been released by the charity to mark the launch of its brand new NDCS Roadshow bus, which aims to drive deaf awareness in schools and bust out of date myths about deafness that lurk in the nation’s classrooms and communities.

Misconceptions uncovered by the charity through its close work with the deaf community include assumptions that deaf people cannot reproduce, they aren’t intelligent, they don’t make good parents and will never find love. Notions that deaf people can read braille and should look a certain way were also cited.

New data also shows that 45% of the general public believe deafness is a learning disability and over one third agree if you’re deaf you can’t hear anything at all, when it’s well known that hearing levels vary hugely.

The lack of awareness displayed has been branded ‘worrying’ by NDCS, which works to improve the lives of deaf children and their families.  It is hoped the workshops and resources delivered by the new NDCS Roadshow Bus will tackle the social isolation and stigma that deaf children can experience that can stem from a lack of awareness among peers and wider society.

The roadshow’s big purple bus, which has been designed with the help of one hundred deaf and hearing children and young people, will take to the road in July and will be kicking off its UK tour at Whitehall Primary School, Chingford, Essex. The bus will provide information, workshops and resources to deaf children and their families, hearing children, teachers and other professionals, whilst also building deaf children and young people’s independence and confidence in communicating.

Commenting on the launch of the new roadshow bus, NDCS Chief Executive, Susan Daniels said: “I’m dismayed that some of these assumptions actually still exist in society today. Deafness not a learning disability so deaf children can achieve anything they set their mind to with the right support. Poor deaf awareness and support means that many deaf children and young people feel isolated, are at risk of bullying and fall behind at school. The roadshow’s UK tour will give hearing children and teachers the opportunity to learn about supporting deaf children and help ensure the next generation never underestimate what deaf children can achieve.”

The top ten worst misconceptions of deafness as told to the National Deaf Children’s Society by members of the deaf community are:

  • Deaf people can’t reproduce– “When I was 10 a shop worker asked if the man I was interpreting for was my uncle or a friend.  When I said it was my dad she asked how was it possible that he was a father if he was deaf”.
  • You can never be a good parent– “I’ve been told by people that I shouldn’t have children because it would be irresponsible and selfish to inflict that on someone.”
  • You cannot be clever– “I contacted a school to enquire whether it might be suitable for my deaf son and was informed that, as all the pupils were very bright, it would not be appropriate.”
  • You couldn’t possibly find love– “I can’t tell you the number of times I have been asked by parents of small deaf children if I’ve ever had a boyfriend or if it is possible to ‘find love’ and be in a relationship as a deaf person.  So it’s quite a common misconception that deaf people aren’t loveable.”
  • You can’t read– “When I passed my driving theory test at the test centre, the receptionist looked really surprised when she handed me my results.  She said, “You passed!  You got 34 out  of 35.  Can you actually read?”  I replied sarcastically, “No, I chose all the answers at random and somehow managed to get 34 right out of 35.  Of course I can read!”
  • You should be able to read braille– “I was in McDonalds with my cochlear impact on show, when the cashier, looking very pleased with himself, handed me a menu in braille.  When I explained I’m deaf and not blind, he insisted this would help. ”
  • You have a certain look – “The amount of times I have had “but you don’t look deaf”.  How exactly am I supposed to look?”
  • You have compensatory superpowers– “You’re deaf, so your sight must be really good!”  I was wearing glasses at the time.”
  • You can still hear on the phone though, right?–  “Every time I go into a mobile phone shop or bank, the first thing I say is that I’m deaf.  In the course of the conversation, I am always told that I’ll need to ring the call centre.  I always say that I’ve come into the store because I cannot ring the call centre, I’m deaf but they always insist that I need to ring the call centre anyway.”
  • Being deaf is no big deal– “I have relatively good speech so people always underestimate the severity of my deafness.  I’ve had well-meaning friends who tell me that it can’t be that bad, that I’ve ‘won the health lottery’ and that it is ‘just like being short-sighted.”

More information on deaf awareness can be found at    www.youngpeople.ndcsbuzz.org.uk/looksmilechat or speak to the NDCS Helpline for advice and support by calling 0808 800 8880.

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