Comparison of opinions about the deaf between deaf counselors and hearing counselors

This study compares the opinions and attitudes related to the deaf population between deaf counselors and hearing counselors. The data was gathered from 35 subjects. Fifteen of the subjects were deaf counselors and 15 were hearing counselors from various sections of the country. Five subjects identified themselves as hard-of-hearing and, therefore, were omitted from this study. Very little empirical research has been done on the subject of counseling with deaf persons. One research study shows that there is no difference in attitudes towards the deaf person between hearing-impaired and hearing counselors. Another study, of Gallaudet College students, shows that the students with the greatest hearing loss and those who relied mostly on sign language preferred deaf counselors. This study finds that deaf counselors have more positive opinions about the deaf person than hearing counselors. The deaf counselors have a greater understanding and higher expectations of the deaf. Also, deaf counselors see the deaf as being “normal” in their feelings, outlook and goals, and they see deafness as less of a handicap than hearing counselors. This study indicates the need for more counselors with specialized training in working with deaf persons. In this field there is an even greater need for well-trained deaf counselors. For hearing counselors to develop more positive attitudes towards the deaf, it is necessary for them to learn about and seek experiences in the deaf culture.