"No Sign Language if you want to get him talking": Power, Transgressions/Resistance and Discourses of d/Deafness in the Republic of Ireland


Mathews, Elizabeth S. (2012) "No Sign Language if you want to get him talking": Power, Transgressions/Resistance and Discourses of d/Deafness in the Republic of Ireland. In: Anniversary Essays: Forty Years of Geography in Maynooth. National University of Ireland Maynooth, pp. 227-252. ISBN 9780992746605

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Abstract

Over the last number of decades, recognition of the fact that Deaf people comprise a Deaf Community which shares a common language, Sign Language, with its own grammar and syntax (Stokoe, 1960), cultural norms and values, and history (Groce, 1985; Bienvenu, 1989; Lane, 1989; Sacks, 1989; van Cleve and Crouch, 1989; Lane et al., 1996; Mow, 2001; Woll and Ladd, 2005) has highlighted the need for a socio-cultural perspective on Deafness, breaking away from the traditional medical view of hearing impairment. This rise of the socio-cultural model of Deafness, sometimes known as ‘Big-D Deaf’ is signified by the capitalisation of the word Deaf, indicating membership to a cultural and linguistic minority group, as opposed to lowercase deaf which signifies an audiological deficiency.1 Although those identifying with the socio-cultural model of Deafness do not identify as disabled (Lane, 2002), the progress made in establishing a socio-cultural model must be situated within a generalised shift away from viewing disabilities as inherently personal obstacles towards one which examines the role of the physical, social, economic, or political environment in creating disability (Oliver, 1990). While this shift has occurred within the social and care sciences (including Geography) and Deaf Studies itself, with a transference from a medical model of disability to various kinds of social models, the predominant mode of research concerning d/Deaf people in medical and educational fields still favours the medical model of deafness as a disabling condition best corrected through audiological treatment and speech instruction (as highlighted by research reported in journals such as Audiology, International Journal of Audiology, the International Journal of Language and Communication Disorders, and The Journal of Speech, Language and Hearing Research). There is little room for the role of Sign Language or Deaf identity in this medical model, which instead prioritises acquisition of speech and integration with hearing society as the goal of deaf education. While due consideration must be given to the complexities of d/Deaf identity and the diffculties in implementing any binary between deaf/Deaf or d/Deaf/hearing (Skelton and Valentine, 2003a) for the purpose of this paper, I will limit this discussion to the ‘two dominant constructions of d/Deafness: medical deafness and sociocultural Deafness (Valentine and Skelton, 2007: 108).

Item Type: Book Section
Additional Information: First published in Population, Space and Place (2011), 17, 361-376.
Keywords: Sign Language; talking; Power; Transgressions/Resistance; Discourses; d/Deafness; Republic of Ireland; Anniversary Essays; Geography; Maynooth;
Academic Unit: Faculty of Social Sciences > Geography
Item ID: 5596
Depositing User: IR Editor
Date Deposited: 05 Dec 2014 15:05
Publisher: National University of Ireland Maynooth
Refereed: Yes
URI:

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