Social Question

rebbel's avatar

Can people, who were born deaf (100%), talk? [Details inside].

Asked by rebbel (23527 points ) February 13th, 2012

A while ago there was a question about deafness.
I answered it and afterwards I discussed it with my girlfriend.
She assumed that a person who was born deaf could not (vocally) talk (as long as that person is still deaf).
Because that person has never heard sound (also not her/his own sound) he/she can not make understandable sounds, is what my girlfriend thinks.
Was that assumption correct?
Whenever a deaf person’s hearing is (in whatever way) repaired, and he/she had never been able to talk, can that person learn to talk?

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10 Answers

Kardamom's avatar

Yes, one of the girls I went to school was born deaf, but she could talk (and do sign language).

She went to a speech therapist that taught her how to read lips so she could see how the words were formed by the shape of the lips and then she was also taught how to move the air across her tongue. She could be understood fairly well, although she definitely sounded quite different than a hearing person, for the exact reason that you stated, she could never know for sure what the sounds were supposed to be like.

We got a good laugh in our art class, because my friend, who could read lips quite well, had to tell our teacher that he needed to shave his beard (it was pretty bushy) so she could read his lips. She also used me as kind of a translator, because some of the time, he had to write things on the board while he was talking, and my friend could not see or hear what he was saying.

The poor teacher kept forgetting that she couldn’t hear, because she could, in fact, talk.

I think deaf people have varying degrees of success with spoken speech, whether they were born deaf or not.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Zen will be here soon….

downtide's avatar

One of my partner’s cousins was born profoundly deaf, he has never had any hearing at all. He can speak, though it’s difficult for people who don’t know him to understand him.

Aethelflaed's avatar

Yes. Being deaf doesn’t affect their vocal cords. It might sound a little bit “off” to those of us who aren’t deaf (more or less like Marlee Matlin), but it’s definitely a skill they’re capable of learning.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I would imagine that the internal workings of the tongue and jaw, that they can’t see, would be the biggest hurdle to overcome.

YARNLADY's avatar

The vibrations of music, speaking, and all other sounds can be duplicated by deaf people. It is only their hearing that is affected, not their ability to feel and reproduce the vibrations necessary.

linguaphile's avatar

I wasn’t born deaf—I became deaf at 2½ but lost my ability to speak over the years because my decibel loss is 115 (means I can’t hear anything until it hits 115 decibels). After 12 years of speech therapy,I can speak very well for my degree of loss but all that training became diddlysquat when I moved to a region with a different accent.

Most of the time, people who are born deaf are not born 100% deaf—it’s actually extremely rare to be born 100% deaf. I know a lot of born-deaf people who acquired good speech, even with deaf parents. If they are literally 100% deaf, speech is much harder to acquire and depends greatly on their cognitive abilities and whether they are able to adjust in response to feedback. It’s possible to acquire a varying degree of intelligibility, yes, but more likely they’ll sound odd—the intonations and stresses are off. Even after 12 years of speech training and being born hearing, I sound funny.

In the 70’s and before that, schools would invest 3 to 5 hours a day on speech training, with abuse, to achieve as close to clear speech as possible. Parents started to become frustrated with that— all that time invested and speech is still not perfect, and time on true academic subjects is lost so today how much time is invested depends on the school and parents’ desires.

zensky's avatar

Thanks for sharing lovely @linguaphile.

filmfann's avatar

Through my wife, I have met many people who were born stone deaf, and I assure you they can be taught to talk.
My wife was born with 2% hearing in her right ear, and 1% in the left. Her hearing wasn’t a factor in her learning to speak.

rebbel's avatar

I want to thank you all.
Enlighting answers/stories, that I will read to my girlfriend as well.
Thank you!

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