Let Your Inner Voice Speak


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Roughly 34 million people around the world are affected by some sort of hearing loss, including deafness. Deafness is a type of hearing loss that results in having very little to no functional hearing. So, how do they think?

Humans commonly think in a sequence of words, images, or a combination of both. Some people think primarily in terms of words which means that their thoughts are dominated by words and narrations. Other people think primarily in images, meaning that their thoughts are influenced by images and pictures.

Deaf people think in terms of their "inner voice". It turns out that this varies moderately from one deaf person to another, depending on their level of deafness and vocal training.

Those who were born entirely deaf and only learned sign language think in sign language. What is exceptional is those who were born completely deaf but learn to speak through vocal training will seldom think in the vocal language with their brains coming up with how the vocal language sounds, along with the sign language they know.

Nearly completely deaf people think in sign language. It is comparable to how an "inner voice" of a hearing person is endured in one's own voice. A fully deaf person sees or, feels themselves expressing in their head as they "talk" in their heads.

Language is integral in brain functions as memory, abstract thinking, fascinatingly, and self-awareness. Language has been shown to literally be the "device driver", so to speak, that drives much of the brain's core "hardware".

So, deaf people who aren't recognized as such very young or people that live in areas where they aren't able to learn sign language will be significantly handicapped mentally until they learn a structured language, though there is nothing actually wrong with their brains.

The severity of the problem is even more than it may seem at first because of the importance language has in the early stages of development of the brain. The deaf people who learn no sign language until late in life will frequently have learning problems throughout their lives, even after they have learned a particular sign language.

Completely deaf people who use only spoken language are only slightly better off than those who know no language, in terms of their brain functions. The brains of the completely deaf never fully comprehend spoken language in the way sign language gets implanted in their brains.

Due to this, they don't develop an "inner voice", which is vital for our brains to process information.

They do attain remarkably more sense of self and better memory over those who have no language. But they will never fully reach their brain's potential as in when they learn sign language.

"There is still a lot of debate over what are the minimal levels of exposure needed to stimulate the language centers. But deaf children need early experience of some sort of language if they are going to be good communicators in later life," says Professor David Wood, a leading deaf educationalist at Nottingham University.


Let’s Look At Some Myths vs. Facts

If you're thinking that Sign language is universal, you could not be more wrong. There's no one universal sign language spoken by all deaf people. Deaf Americans speak American Sign Language (ASL) and it is different from the sign languages spoken in other countries, like the United Kingdom or Japan.

Some believe that all deaf people can read lips. In fact, not every deaf person uses lip reading as a form of communication. There are many factors that affect how difficult lip reading can be.

Most people who are born deaf have senses that function in an otherwise "normal" capacity. However, some study has suggested that the auditory cortex of the brain, which usually processes sound, processes visual and touch stimuli to a higher degree in deaf people.


Big D vs. Little D

There is a big difference in being Deaf and being deaf. Usually, the "small d" deaf do not associate with other members of the deaf community. They may strive to identify themselves with hearing people and regard their hearing loss only in medical terms.

In contrast, "big D" Deaf people identify themselves as culturally deaf and have a strong deaf identity. They're often pretty proud to be deaf. It's common that "big D" Deaf attended schools and programs for the deaf. The "small d" deaf tend to have been mainstreamed and may not have attended a school for the deaf.


The Bottom Line

Deaf people process information through their brain, their eyes, their nose, their tongue, and their touch, all in the identical way anyone would process information.

Sound isn't part of their thought process, and because it's not part of their thought process does not mean they don't have an inner voice. They do. They too are conscious, sentient beings who think and reason.

Written by – Anusha Vajha

Edited by – Adrija Saha

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