Deaf communities’ views (and those who support them) have been almost completely ignored in genetics discussions. So this research applies Deafhood perspectives in the following ways:
(i) It will collect evidence of Deaf communities’ (whom we call Sign Language Peoples, SLPs for short) beliefs in the positive contributions they make to the world, so that the world can begin to appreciate the unique importance of Deaf cultures in genetics debates.
(ii) It will examine hearing people’s attitudes to SLPs communities and culture, including the extent to which they are capable of changing their opinions when presented with the positive Deaf contributions identified above.
The findings will be of great value, not only to SLPs communities, but also to other sectors of society involved in or concerned about genetic discourses. There is very little discussion in UK society about the drift towards eugenics, which affects other groups such as disabled people and gay/lesbian people.
Ultimately these developments affect everyone. If the UK becomes a society where diversity is rejected and eugenics is widely accepted, then some of the ethical principles which people have taken pride in for centuries will have been jettisoned. We believe that SLPs are at the cutting edge of these debates, and intend that the research project is merely the beginning of collecting information which can critically examine such developments.
The project began in October 2010 and is led by Dr Paddy Ladd and Dr Steven Emery, with Clive Mason as technician and sign language advisor. (Click here for further information on why we believe SLPs are at the cutting edge of the genetics debates.)