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!