Oppressive Experiences Among Deaf Diverse Senior Citizens

By: Audrey Frank Frank  

None of the limited literature on deaf seniors focuses on their experiences of oppression. There is an article that demonstrates that not many mental health professionals have the skills to work with deaf seniors. Obstacles have been noted in the literature among deaf women and among deaf people in general terms of being oppressed with employment, doctors, education, family discrimination, stereotyping, stigmas, and cultural conflicts because they are deaf. The obstacles facing deaf seniors had not been specifically explored before this research. The shift attention to deaf seniors is needed in order to make their experiences known and at the same time their lives, values, and strengths need to be understood and recognized. Ninety-one deaf seniors from five states aged between 50 years and 93 years were interviewed to describe their recent experience on oppression. They shared their common experiences on oppression such as lack of communication with their doctors, hearing co-workers, and family members, struggling to get promoted at work, and being left out in the neighborhood. According to the deaf seniors, the community did not acknowledge or accommodate the special needs they had as deaf seniors. The mental health professionals are to enhance better understanding of experiences among deaf seniors. This lack of awareness highlights the need for research about deaf seniors’ experiences of oppression and for research on what mental health professionals should know about the special needs of this population.

Deaf Seniors Oppression Medical professionals Employment Communication barriers Deaf culture
Social and Cultural Perspectives on Aging
Paper Presentation in a Themed Session

Audrey Frank Frank

Professor, Social Work, Gallaudet University, United States
Washington DC, United States

Audrey has been a clinical social workerat various schools and mental health agencies since 1982. She is licensed in Social work in Maryland and the District of Columbia where she provided indiviual, couple, and family therapy in private practice for fifteen years. Audrey also has taught undergraduate and graduate social work courses at Gallaudet University for twenty years. Audrey currently is a full-time faculty member in the MSW program at Gallaudet.