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<<Biblioteca Digital del Portal<<La Educación<<La Educación (120) I, 1995 <<Artículo
La Educación
Número: (120) I
Año: 1995

An Oppressed Minority

In most countries, deaf people are an oppressed minority. No one contends their minority status. The rates of early deafness vary from place to place but seldom exceed 1 per 1,000 of the population and occasionally are half or less than that rate. In a population of one million, then, the number of those deafened in early childhood would probably not exceed 1,000 persons—a small segment, indeed.

Some critics object to calling deaf people “oppressed.” They believe it is too stark an adjective to apply to this tiny minority. In response to their objection, let us consider some illustrations of oppression:
  • For centuries nations failed to educate their deaf children.
  • In many countries, the use of sign language with deaf students is suppressed—even today.
  • Industry often denies deaf workers employment opportunities, particularly promotions to supervisory and administrative positions.
  • At times in the past, attempts have been made to prevent deaf people from marrying other deaf people.
  • In some countries, social agencies have recently challenged deaf parents’ rights to raise their own children.
These examples all qualify as oppression. And more could be cited. These facts should be enough to convince objective readers that deaf people are not members of a favored minority like movie stars or millionaires. Their place in our society is, at best, marginal, even when they are not actively discriminated against.