What is it like to be a young deaf person now?

They are likely to go to mainstream schools, they are likely to have hearing friends and connect with people via social media.

Therefore, what type of deaf identity is formed in this environment?

Do they lack deaf role models, people they can look up to?

Traditionally, deaf young people attended deaf schools especially residential schools where they were taught either using Total Communication (using a wide variety of communication methods) or orally, yet they would mingle with other deaf young people, leading them into their own unique community/groups which would enable them to meet other deaf people outwith schools, such as deaf youth clubs, deaf events, enabling them to develop their deaf identity and language.

However due to changing legislation in the 1970s/1980s deaf young people were increasingly integrated into mainstream schools. Due to the difference in education and exposure to deaf language and heritage between today’s young deaf people and older deaf generations there is some concern that identity and language will be lost or diluted.

The sense of being in the community, developing a distinct identity, culture and preserving sign language as the dominant means of communication is likely to be reduced among deaf young people.

However, it can be argued that they have more options in the wider world?

There are many questions to consider:

Do young deaf people understand deaf heritage?

Is there a place for them to feel like they are part of a deaf community?

Does the integration of young deaf people within mainstream education and wider society give them more opportunities or is it an isolating experience?

There appears to be a gap between younger and older generations.

How can we bridge this gap? How do we create dialogue between younger and older generations – is there an intergenerational model that can bring both generations closer together to help everyone?

We want to hear from you. What are your thoughts? Do you have any stories about growing up deaf or are you a young deaf person and would like to get involved with a Solar Flares project? Email felix@solarbear.org.uk