Abstract

In scientific papers, hearing loss is commonly considered as a physical limitation, which attributes to deaf people the status of “person with disabilities”. At the same time, in modern studies the concept of deafness is detached from disability, and some researchers talk about the formation of a new approach to deafness, which exceeds the limits of the traditional and post-traditional paradigms of disability.

In this paper, the author examines the main scientific discourses in which the concept of deafness is placed during the 20th and 21st centuries. A chronological analysis of approaches to deafness, as seen in domestic and foreign literatures, identifies three conceptions: medical, social and cultural. The first two conceptions are universal for all categories of people with disabilities. Deafness as a medical concept is analysed as an illness or pathology, and deaf people are described as the deviants. Doctors and teachers are the main agents of popularisation of this approach, whose task is to bring back hearing and speech to the deaf. The social conception explains the dialectic of the deaf / hearing not only as a characteristic of the physical body, but as the result of a social construction. This conception appeared due to the movement of people with disabilities (including Deaf) advocating for their rights and implies searching for ways of stimulating independence and overcoming isolation of the deaf and hearing impaired. The last conception of deafness described in this paper is the cultural one, which appeared due to the recognition of sign language and to the definition of the deaf as a special cultural group in historical and cultural studies and sociological terms.

Keywords: deafness, deafhood, disability, models of disability, hearing impairment