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Diversity: Disability and Deaf Studies

  • By: S.J. Wright
  • In: The SAGE Deaf Studies Encyclopedia
  • Edited by: Genie Gertz & Patrick Boudreault
  • Subject:Physical Disabilities, Otorhinolaryngology (Ears, Nose, & Throat)


It has long been held that disability like race, is a socially constructed notion. Despite the seeming arbitrariness in which labels and categories are placed upon certain populations, doing so creates a pervasive divide where deaf individuals are concerned. Once an individual is formally labeled as being “disabled,” it is the branding of a being that is nearly impossible to undo. Joseph Valente writes of the “colonization” of young deaf bodies, which occurs the minute a particular institution has gained control of, categorized, labeled, and publicly declare a young (or older) individual to be ‘deaf.’ In doing so, a label is forced upon a person’s psyche involuntarily, without providing for a natural journey to becoming deaf, as is evidenced in Genie Gertz’s examination of surdesence. ...

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