Have your say

This week’s Have your say debate asks how can care homes
be made friendlier to older lesbians and older gay men? Should we
have separate care homes for homosexuals?

To have your say click here and your
responses will appear here in this section of the website on 7


Last week’s Have your say debate centred on the issue of
deafness. We asked: should deafness be regarded as a cultural
identity as well as a physical disability?

These are the responses we received:

I feel deafness should be seen as having a
cultural identity and probably as less of a physical disability. I
am a social work student in Aberdeen. I don’t wear hearing aids as
they are both uncomfortable and pick up sounds that are
distracting. I felt pressure to try to wear aids at university as
it would be easier for other students and lecturers. I lip read and
don’t sign and with the assistance of a notetaker. I feel I am able
to manage the course work okay. I also on occasions have an
advantage in being deaf in that I don’t have the distraction of
television or radio and therefore am able to do more reading. I
really enjoy the course I am doing and have been supported by the
university thus far. I would like to see work being done to develop
aids for both people who use sign, and for those who choose to lip
read that would level the playing field.

Denise Marwick

Deafness should be regarded as a cultural
identity. Who should regard it as a disability?? If the deaf person
does not regard it to be – then it should not. I am hearing and
have learnt BSL1 (British Sign Language). Why shouldn’t BSL signers
wear a badge to distinguish themselves as signers?? That would
further encourage any deaf people to start up a conversation with
them, of course it may encourage hearing signers to BSL to other
hearing signers, but then that’s no bad thing

Kenneth Dickson

I feel that deafness should definitely be
regarded as a cultural identity as well as a physical disability.
Anyone who has met a person who is deaf and who mixes with the deaf
community would also I feel, believe the same.

Many deaf people I work with and/or know personally would stress
that they feel they already are part of a cultural minority, and
are frustrated and bemused as to why this group is not more widely

Their language, BSL, is very different to English (and very
difficult to learn for those who have tried!), and D/deaf and
hearing people continue to fight for recognition by our government
with annual marches across the country and a variety of campaigns.
If people who are D/deaf were officially recognised as belonging to
a cultural group one would hope that a direct result of that would
be increased understanding, empathy and greater access to equal
rights within all aspects of society for D/deaf people. This is far
from the truth at this time, things are improving but there is a
long way to go. Recognition as a cultural minority and recognition
of one of the most beautiful and expressive languages I have come
across, will be a big step in the right

Nikki. (Social Worker with Deaf People)

In my view the answer to this question is
definitely yes. Anyone who accepts and embraces the social model of
disability rather than any other model of disability has no problem
with this question at all. Deafness is not a problem unless the
hearing world makes it a problem. Deaf people are subjected to
discrimination and oppression by the hearing world which devalues
their skills and limits their opportunities. Those of us who
embrace the social model of disability also understand deaf

Deaf people are a cultural and linguistic minority, and their
access to their language and culture is something which is a
fundamental human right. Deaf people do not regard their deafness
as something negative, but as something positive. We need to accept
that difference is something enriching and positive and not
something negative. What a dull place the world would be if
everyone was exactly the same as everyone else!

To ignore deaf people’s culture and to suppress their language
is oppressive and arrogant.

For many years deaf people’s access to their language has been
subject to the whims and fancies of the hearing world. Deaf
children need to be given access to British Sign Language in
schools as of right. In the same way as Welsh children are given
the opportunity to be educated in Welsh or in bi-lingual schools,
so deaf children should be given opportunities. To deprive a deaf
child of learning British Sign Language should, in my view, be
considered to be a form of abuse. Deaf people should be encouraged
to sue local authorities which deprive them of access to their
first language in education, social services and other

The history of deaf people’s struggle against the cultural
imperialism of the hearing world is something that needs to be
acknowledged and understood.

Helen Best

I feel as if this “debate” has been going on
for hundreds of years.

I simply consider myself to have dual membership – in other
words, I am culturally deaf, a member of a linguistic minority
group that has British Sign Language as its main identity / focus,
and I also say that I have advisability – it is society’s lack of
awareness and negative attitudes that defines my disability. It is
personally very important to me that I feel an affinity with other
people who are also disabled and vice versa. After all, other
people’s disabilities are also defined by society, attitudes, lack
of awareness, lack of access, lack of opportunities etc etc etc.
Together, we would be able to break down more barriers, improve
awareness, ensure civil rights etc etc.

So what is wrong with having both? i.e. having a cultural AND
disability identity? Celebrate le / la difference!

There are even more identities! e.g. woman, black, etc etc. The
list is endless.

Isabel Reid




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