Easier Said than Done
Undoing Hearing Privilege in Deaf Studies
Although Deaf Studies has made a significant contribution to research on oppression, there has been little attempt at sensitizing hearing students to issues of power and privilege within the field. A major reason for this lapse is the manifestation and maintenance of hearing privilege within Deaf Studies. Most Deaf Studies courses tend to discuss oppression as problems affecting deaf people, thereby neglecting to explore the advantages of hearing-abled people due to that oppression. The workings of hearing privilege are rarely problematized in Deaf Studies teaching and research because it is invisible, normalized, and structurally embedded. In this study, the author argues for the importance of incorporating the concepts of both oppression and hearing privilege into Deaf Studies programs. If there is an expectation to study oppression, then hearing students and academics of Deaf Studies need to be prepared to explore the concept of hearing privilege. The author discusses and reflects upon his experiences of delivering social justice workshops to hearing people within the field of Deaf Studies. He contends that bringing hearing privilege into debate within Deaf Studies can enable hearing people to become aware of their privilege and take responsibility for challenging inequality.
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