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Prof: Curing deafness can be seen as ‘cultural genocide’

A professor at Gallaudet University has written that curing deafness can be seen as “cultural genocide” that results in the “demise” of the deaf community.

The professor at Gallaudet, a university for the deaf and hard of hearing, wrote “this claim is often dismissed as a hyperbolic category mistake,” Heat Street reports:

Teresa Blankmeyer Burke, an associate professor at the university, who is also the first signing deaf woman in the world to receive a doctorate of philosophy, wrote an article warning that deaf people who take part in research aimed at eliminating or curing deafness are aiding “a form of cultural genocide.”

“The argument goes like this,” professor Burke wrote. “The use of gene therapy to cure hereditary deafness would result in smaller numbers of deaf children. This, in turn, would reduce the critical mass of signing deaf people needed for a flourishing community, ultimately resulting in the demise of the community.”

In addition, Burke added the “advantages” of deafness aren’t easily seen by those with hearing:

“The majority of deaf children are born to hearing parents in families that have taken up the values and norms of a society constructed for hearing people,” she continued. “Most of these deaf children are not given a choice about whether to pursue their bimodal and bilingual birthright—that choice is made for them by their culturally hearing parents.”

She adds: “This bias of hearing culture can be seen in the normative claim that it is better to be a member of the dominant, mainstream hearing cultural community than to be a member of the non-dominant deaf cultural community.”

Read the full story.

MORE: Local media gives ‘white genocide’ prof a sympathetic portrayal

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