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Shifting from hearing loss to "Deaf Gain"

Let's imagine that society as a whole and we as individuals start looking at the concept of being deaf as a positive thing and start recognising the valuable contribution that deaf people bring to the world. That is in essence the nature of "Deaf Gain".

The term “Deaf Gain” was coined in 2005 by Aaron Williamson, a British performing artist visiting Gallaudet. Deafened later in life, Aaron noted that with each interaction doctors repeated “hearing loss.” This experience, familiar to most deaf people, compelled him to ask the question, why “hearing loss and not gaining deafness?”

I truly believe that it is beneficial that the term “Deaf Gain” becomes more prominent in our society. People need to know and appreciate the good things that deaf/hoh people and society are gaining from deafness and the multiple ways in which deaf people contribute to the diversity of the world.

Some people, maybe most people, think that being deaf means that you are disabled, or that you are missing something. Like "if you can't hear, then you can't do something", but that's not true. We are often asked “can deaf people drive?” for example – of course they can! Why not indeed?! (Read more about "Audism" here)

Being deaf has lots of benefits

Being deaf has lots of benefits; from not being awakened by any sound, to working in a place that has a lot of noise - here Deaf workers are able to focus better because they're not bothered by the sound of machinery. From increased and improved visual abilities (better peripheral vision), to alternative ways of thinking and problem solving, social structure, and much more!

Deaf Gain also benefits society

There are d/Deaf people who have contributed to society in the sciences, medical fields, arts, and more, for example:

  • The signals now used by baseball umpires to call the plays were developed by Dummy Hoy, a deaf person.

  • The Gallaudet University - the world’s only University for the Deaf, created The Huddle in American Football.

  • Research shows that “Baby signs" and sign language practised on and with babies speeds up speech development, reduces frustration in young children by giving them a means to express themselves before they know how to talk, increases parent-child bonding, and much more... (Read my experience on "Teaching sign language to my baby" here)

In a nutshell

"Deaf Gain" is the opposite of hearing loss. This term demonstrates the positive implications of deafness and claims that deafness as a gain rather than a loss of hearing.

Certainly, we are free to choose the word/words that best fits our identity and how we want to be perceived. We can choose to say that we are "hard of hearing", "hearing impaired", "deaf", "Deaf, depending on how we interpret these terms.

Anyway, if you're Deaf, just be proud of who you are, and if you are hearing, remember that Deaf people are contributing a lot to society as a whole.


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