CONSEQUENCES OF HEARING/DEAFNESS DISABILITIES FOR LATE DEAFENED ADULTS. Margaret Robertson Chairperson, Deafness Forum of Australia. Focus of presentation .
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Chairperson, Deafness Forum of Australia
People who have acquired a hearing loss as adults and maintain their lives in the hearing community, relying on a combination of whatever residual hearing they have retained and visual communication, frequently assisted by technological devices including hearing aids and cochlear implants
‘ DEAFENED ADULTSAn invisible condition without external evidence such as signing, places people who are hard of hearing in limbo. They do not belong to deaf communities and they are often estranged from the hearing community of which they had been a part.’
(Rocky Stone 1987)
Though endowed with a passionate and lively temperament and even fond of the distraction offered by society, I was soon obliged to seclude myself and live in solitude…if I appear in company I am overcome by a burning anxiety, a fear that I am running the risk of letting people know my condition…such experiences have almost made me despair, and I was on the point of putting an end to my life – the only thing that held me back was my art’.
Beethoven Heiligenstadt Document, 1802
Self esteem and identity:
‘Unless I have to, I will not let the deaf cat out of the bag’ (Wright 1990)
‘Social incompetence is consistently felt to be a more tolerable negative identity than that of being viewed as a hearing impaired person’ (Hetu 1996)
‘Psychological disturbance was evident in a hearing impaired sample at a rate four times that of the general population’ (Thomas 1984)
‘HI elderly report significantly more depressive symptoms, lower self-efficacy, more feelings of loneliness…than normally hearing peers’ (Kramer et al 2000)
‘Deafness is essentially interactive. It is an experience which is necessarily shared with others. The closer the relationship, the stronger the impact of hearing difficulties’ (Hetu, Jones & Getty 1993)
‘I lost my hearing then I lost my wife. She doesn’t realize what it is like for me’(Harvey 2000)
Employment and Careers:
Employment and Careers (cont):
Deafened adults are disadvantaged with regard to education and access to paid employment, particularly those with more advanced hearing loss. Those who have jobs may not enjoy the same level of career progression as those who can hear. Educational and employment disadvantage results in adverse economic position for deafened adults. Access to medical and rehabilitation services greatly enhanced the likelihood of deafened people retaining employment (Hogan et al 1998)