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Myths and misconceptions that hearing people have about the Deaf:
- All Deaf and hard of hearing people can speech read.
Most Deaf and hard of hearing can speech read to a certain extent, but this does not mean that they can read everything that is said. It is a skill which must be learned. Even under favourable conditions, on average only 25% of a speaker’s words can be read correctly. With the simultaneous use of appropriate signs, facial expressions and body language, the accuracy of speech reading increases considerably.
- D/Deaf parents usually have D/Deaf children
90% of D/Deaf children have hearing parents. Deafness in the family can be hereditary or as a result of an illness contracted by the mother during pregnancy or an illness that the child contracted.
- Deaf people live isolated and socially impoverished lives
Deaf see themselves as a cultural group with their own language. They interact socially within their own group but many Deaf people are also very comfortable socially among the hearing.
- Deaf people think only in concrete terms and cannot think in abstract terms. The intellectual levels of the Deaf are the same as those of the hearing. They are more than capable of thinking in abstract terms just as any other person.
- The early use of Sign Language impedes the acquisition of spoken language skills. The early use of Sign Language does not mean that spoken language must be neglected. Due to the fact that the person is Deaf, Sign Language is the language wherein he/she can communicate best. A healthy policy is that of bilingualism. This means that, for Deaf persons who were born Deaf or became Deaf before language acquisition, the first language is Sign Language. A second language such as Afrikaans, English or Xhosa is then learned, mainly as reading and writing language while basic speech is also learned to complement signs used to help in communication with hearing persons who do not know Sign Language. Bilingualism makes it easier for the Deaf to become, both socially and economically, part of the community.
- Deaf workers have poor safety records
There is no reason for the Deaf to have poorer safety records than the hearing. The Deaf are, in general, more attentive because they rely more on their sight than on their hearing.
- Deaf people have more car accidents than the hearing.
The fact that they have a hearing loss, does not affect their driving ability in any way whatsoever. On the contrary, the Deaf are, in general, more attentive because they rely more on their sight than on their hearing.
- Deaf people with a hearing aid can understand speech
A hearing aid amplifies the sound that is heard. Deaf persons with mild hearing loss can hear almost normally when fitted with an appropriate hearing aid but they are in the minority. Most of the Deaf will only hear more sounds but not necessarily each individual sound well enough to identify speech.
- Deaf people are incapable of speaking spoken languages
Many Deaf can speak well enough for people to understand them. Other Deaf’s speech is however, not so good and some of them must be taught to speak so that they, in time, can also be understood.
- All Deaf people like each other.
Do all hearing people like each other?
- Hard of hearing persons are more intelligent than Deaf persons
Many people associate good speech with level of intelligence. The intelligence levels of the Deaf are the same as those of the hard of hearing.
- All Deaf people know Sign Language
The Deaf must learn Sign Language. A large percentage of Deaf people became Deaf after acquiring language. Most of them do not have command of Sign Language and must rely on speech reading.