In mainstream America, deafness is often approached as a defect. Helen Keller is supposed to have said, “Blindness cuts people off from things; deafness cuts people off from people.” Until we accept the hearing impaired community as whole rather than damaged, there is no chance of affording this community to experiencing “the pursuit of excellence in education and the equalization of opportunities.” (http://www.csun.edu)
Hearing people tend to pity deaf people, and if they “succeed” in the hearing world, admire them for overcoming a severe handicap. Many look at signing as an inferior substitute for “real” communication.(http://www.colorado.edu) From a deafness-as-defect mindset, many hearing doctors, audiologists, and teachers work to make deaf children speak, or in other words, to make them “un-deaf.” Hearing aids, lip-reading, speech coaches, and surgical implants are all attempted, while in the meantime, many deaf children grow out of the crucial language-acquiring phase of their development. “It becomes their lack of language, not of hearing, that is their most severe handicap.” (http://www.colorado.edu)
Deaf parents of hearing children often raise kids who become interpreters, and who use their bilingual background as both social and professional assets. Deaf parents of deaf children tend to raise leaders in the Deaf community, because “Deaf of Deaf” are often the most adept in both ASL and English. ( http://www.colorado.edu) The majority of deaf children experience their first introduction to ASL in residential schools. This is why the majority of parents send their children to residential schools rather than “mainstreaming” them in hearing classrooms, where they are more often directed to “special education” instead. (http://www.ed.gov; http://www.colorado.edu) Unfortunately, residential schools for the deaf are often greatly deficient in providing actual education. “Teachers...