Deaf Gain, not Hearing Loss: Exploring What Deaf Culture Can Teach Us about Equity in Education

Seminar 3
  • Dec 1, 2023, 9:00 am3:00 pm
  • Dec 8, 2023, 9:00 am3:00 pm
PK-12 Community


Noah Buchholz, M.Div., Th.M.
Department of Humanities Council & Linguistics


Event Description

The term “Deaf gain” is a word play on the label “hearing loss.” Many people view deafness as a loss—hence, the term “hearing loss.” In response, Deaf people develop the concept of “Deaf gain” in order to show that being Deaf has many benefits and Deaf people’s culture and language have a lot to offer to society.

This concept is critical for the field of education because many people attempt to educate Deaf children at the expense of Deaf gains. One example is attempting to teach Deaf children without giving them full access to sign language. Many Deaf children fail to acquire substantial speech skills. Because they have not been given access to sign language at an early age, they develop what is called “language deprivation syndrome,” a set of intellectual disabilities found in children who have been deprived of language at an early age. As Steven Pinker points out, “the deaf are virtually the only neurologically normal people who make it to adulthood without having acquired a language.

With the goal of demonstrating Deaf gains, this seminar introduces the basics of Deaf culture and American Deaf history. An emphasis will be made on the unique benefits of sign language. The discussion on various Deaf gains will then be applied to the topic of equity in the field of education.