When the hearing world will not listen: Deaf Community care in hearing-dominated healthcare
Kelleher, Charlotte Hope
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The Deaf Community has faced a great deal of historical oppression from hearing people that still resonates throughout the Community today. Recent literature has acknowledged the disconnect between the Deaf and hearing worlds, particularly in healthcare and education settings. Likewise, there have been many advocacy and service projects and programs to try to improve these situations. However, much of the existing literature and projects have failed to include input from Deaf Community members. As such, hearing perspectives dominate the lives of Deaf individuals. This study examines how the dominant biomedical perspective of deafness affects Deaf individuals’ ability to receive adequate healthcare. Using standard ethnographic methods, including in-depth, open-ended interviews, and immersion in the research population through ongoing participant observation at a Deaf agency and Deaf Community events, this study highlights the perspectives of Deaf Community members themselves. The findings confirm previous studies’ assertions that the dominant biomedical perspective toward deafness negatively affects Deaf people overall, particularly because of communication obstacles and a lack of understanding about Deaf Culture, specifically in the realm of access to biomedical care. This has never been more worrisome for Deaf people in America than in the current unstable political climate that now threatens access to subsidized healthcare, disability services, and legally protected accommodations.