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Uniting divided worlds
A study of deaf and hard of hearing youth

Hilde Haualand, Arne Grønningsæter og Inger Lise Skog Hansen

Fafo-report 412

Web edition

Forskningstema: Levekår for utsatte grupper

Forskere på Fafo: Arne Backer Grønningsæter, Inger Lise Skog Hansen

This report is based on a study of living conditions among Deaf and hard of hearing people between 16 and 20 years old. A major question posed in the project is whether there is an implicit and inherent normalisation ideology in the welfare state, which considers welfare services to be successful whenever the users adopt a ”normal“ lifestyle. This study indicates that this young generation does not identify with the concept normal, but demands the right to be accepted as they are.

One of the major findings in this study is that sign language seems to be a language of inclusion, not exclusion. Unlike earlier generations of sign language users, many have experienced linguistic inclusion at home through parents who have been given the opportunity to learn sign language. Among those who have not experienced the same degree of inclusion and acceptance at home, questions of belonging to Deaf or hearing worlds seem to add pressure to the anxiety often connected to the teenage years.

The study was concentrated around the young people’s views on education, family relations and identification. Many see themselves as obvious participants in family life and in various local and global scenes and contexts both in hearing and Deaf worlds. They are uniting worlds that traditionally have been divided by language barriers.

Utgitt: 2003 Id-nr.: 412