Deaf and Smart

Deaf and Dumb. The Greek philosopher, Aristotle, pronounced deaf people as “deaf and dumb,” because he felt that deaf people were incapable of being taught, of learning, and of reasoned thinking. To his way of thinking, if a person could not use his/her voice in the same way as hearing people, then there was no way that this person could develop cognitive abilities. (Source: Deaf Heritage, by Jack Gannon, 1980)

This definition unfortunately is still widely used by many hearing people, and the term is offensive to all deaf and hard of hearing people. People with hearing loss have repeatedly proved that they have alot to contribute to the society and that they too can be successful.

Deaf people are NOT less intelligent than hearing people. However, some Deaf people are not given enough opportunities to use their intelligence and progress further, and therefore are seen as unintelligent or dumb.

For example, Deaf children who attend mainstream schools and are not given the right resources (like interpreters, extra help, etc.) may not have the same chance to excel as a hearing student with the same potential.

Another reason that gives many people the impression that the Deaf people are unintelligent is the fact that some Deaf persons do not speak/write properly. They mispronounce words because they never heard them. Moreover, there is a difference between the sign language and the English/Maltese grammar. For this reason, people who are not aware of this might see a Deaf person as unintelligent.

Deaf people in general have just as much potential as hearing people, but they need to be given more opportunities to tap into that potential.

To close this, one should keep in mind that being Deaf does not make a person dumb, just as being Hearing does not make a person smart!

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3 Responses to Deaf and Smart

  1. kdb71 says:

    Many people do not understand that our linguistic development is tied into our linguistic comprehension. For if we do not know or understand the meaning of the word spoken or written, we cannot understand the message. Intelligence is not conveyed through hearing, it is conveyed in our words, our understanding of the messages, and can also be demonstrated in other ways, mathematically, artistically, musically. Intelligence is not solely a product of words.

  2. Yotsuba Koiwai says:

    Dumb means not being able to speak. If someone is deaf and dumb then they can’t hear or speak. That phrase has nothing to do with intelligence.

    • I strongly disagree. It is not an appropriate terminology. It is unacceptable and discriminatory. Labeling a person with deafness or hearing loss as “deaf and dumb” is highly offensive, no matter how they speak. The majority of deaf people DO have the ability to speak. Each deaf or hard of hearing person is unique in his or her hearing status and ability to communicate using spoken language.

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