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

Putting the Theory to Work

However brief its description, we must now turn to a very different question: Is theorizing about the Deaf Community simply post hoc description, or can it fulfill the principal functions of a theory: to predict future events accurately, to generate novel suggestions for action, and to stimulate research? Let’s try the theory on some current issues.

Integration. Some theorists have predicted that educational integration will destroy the Deaf Community. Alexander Graham Bell opposed residential schools for deaf children, because he believed they were the Deaf Community’s breeding grounds. Integrate deaf and normally hearing children and the two groups will continue to associate for the rest of their lives, he argued. What does the theory answer? It says that integration will not destroy the Deaf Community. Putting deaf and non-deaf children together will not eliminate their classmates’ rejection, but it will certainly not stifle attraction. The Deaf Community will survive as long as the twin vectors, attraction and rejection, persist.

Cochlear Implants. Will the advent of medical technology—improved hearing aids and cochlear implants—lead to the downfall of the Deaf Community? Again, the theory says no. For one thing, cochlear implants do not enable one to hear. They do provide a hearing analog that enables some people to greatly improve lipreading, and some others to respond to the electrical stimuli as if they could hear. But what the cochlear implants and “smart hearing aids” provide will not, for the majority of deaf persons, do away with the attractions of the Deaf Community. These devices may lessen somewhat the general community’s rejection, but not completely. As a hint of where one might look for evidence about the influence of “cures” for deafness, consider the recent history of otosurgery. Stapes mobilizations had almost no impact on membership in the Deaf Community.

Telecommunications. What about modern communications technology? Television, radio, telephones—all have had profound influences on the general community, and they are bound to affect the Deaf Community. They are already influencing deaf organizations. But substituting print forms for face-to-face communication only attenuates, to a limited degree, the need for personal contact. It does not do away with it. Telecommunication will not eliminate the great desire for human interaction that is an inborn feature of the human species.

The theory predicts the Deaf Community will continue to exist. Its shape may change from time to time, but its viability will not. Deaf people will continue to support the Deaf Community, because it enables them to be at home among strangers.