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Abstract

This paper explores cultural aspects of hearing loss from the author’s viewpoint as the child of a mother with significant hearing loss. Personal examples are shared, making the frustration of this disability real, both for the deaf person and for their family members.

The terms “big D” and “small d” in deaf culture are presented and defined. The use of American Sign Language (ASL) as the primary language by “Deaf” people is one factor that distinguishes them from “deaf” people. The philosophy and culture of each group are also explored. Historically, the often used “deaf and dumb” phrase is presented and shown by examples to inflict great personal damage.

Finally, the effect of cochlear implants on the “Deaf” and ”deaf” communities is explored. Given all the cultural aspects inherent in each population, and all the technical and individual complexities, it is not a simple decision for anyone to make. Regardless of what they decide to do, “this silent minority is not deaf and broken, but rather deaf and strong.”

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