From Deaf Community

Specialist issues relevant to working with d/Deaf clients

One of three chapters authored by Anna in "Working with deaf people – a handbook for health professionals," which she also edited

Specialist issues relevant to working with d/Deaf clients

1st November 2009

Chapter Introduction:

Medical or cultural model?

Medical model

  • Deafness is viewed through the ‘pathological’ or ‘medical’ model as a medical problem within the ear that needs solving.
  • Health professionals tend to use the medical approach to deafness, seeing the need for a hearing aid or cochlear implant, the assumption being that the client who is deaf or hard of hearing wishes to treat this.

Cultural model

  • The cultural or linguistic model determines that deafness can be viewed differently; here being deaf is tied up with identity and definied b ythe use of an NSL.
  • With the cultural model of deafness it is not a medical problem but more a way of life.

Book Summary:

Long gone are the days when a deaf person is expected to struggle through a healthcare consultation with a health professional who has inadequate deaf awareness. Legislation now dictates that the onus is on the health professional to utilise the right communication skills. Deafness is very common, meaning that health professionals, whatever their specialist area, can expect to encounter a client with deafness or hearing loss on a daily basis. Working with Deaf People is intended for use as a general reference manual, offering practical advice on how to prepare for the consultation with clients who are deaf, deafblind or Deaf (i.e. use sign language as their first language). Information is offered about language, communication and culture; case studies demonstrate how the messages can be applied in practice. Every health professional, medical and nursing student, whatever their discipline and whatever country they work in, should have a copy of this book.

Book Review:

“I’ve worked for 17 years with deaf people and for the first time health professionals have a book that gives them sensible practical advice on working with deaf and deafblind people.” -Steve Powell, CEO, SignHealth, UK


Released in Japanese in 2017.



Middleton A (2009) Specialist issues relevant to working with d/Deaf clients. In: A Middleton (Ed) Working with deaf people – a handbook for health professionals. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp 129-138