CONNECTING HEARING PARENTS WITH THE DEAF WORLD

Rachel Locker McKee

Abstract


The parental experience of raising a child who is potentially a Deaf community member can be framed in terms of ‘migration theory’ (Laing, this volume), in contrast to the grief-centred models commonly presented to parents. This migration model is grounded in an understanding that deafness is a cultural-linguistic status. Usually responses and advice to parents of Deaf children are framed within a medicalised, deficit paradigm of deafness as an impairment of hearing and speech. This article examines the experiences of parents of Deaf children who are in mainstream schools, investigating the extent to which knowledge about the Deaf community is absent from the images they construct of their Deaf children’s identity. I consider whether current opportunities for parents to connect with Deaf world resources afford conditions for a ‘migration journey’. The article concludes that mechanisms in the New
Zealand education system for connecting hearing parents with the Deaf world need strengthening. In particular, professionals who have Deaf-hearing intercultural skills are crucial in realigning the power imbalance between Deaf and hearing people and shaping positive images and aspirations for Deaf children’s futures.

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.11157/sites-vol3iss1id45