Quality of Life of Deaf and Hard of Hearing Individuals in Northern Nevada
AuthorJambor, Edina E.
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The primary focus of the present study was to explore the relationship between deafness-related factors, cultural competency variables and quality of life indicators among a group of deaf and hard of hearing individuals living in Northern Nevada. A model, that included four deafness-related factors (e.g. age of onset of hearing loss, mode of communication while growing up, type of high school attended and degree of hearing loss), four cultural competency styles (e.g. hearing acculturation, deaf acculturation, biculturalism and marginalism) as well as several quality of life indicators, both subjective and objective, was proposed to examine this issue. It was predicted that all deafness-related factors will influence cultural competency styles and determine which style an individual with hearing loss feel most comfortable with. Regression analysis and qualitative comparative analysis results supported the notion that those deaf people who were born deaf, attended residential school for the deaf, used sign language as a primary mode of communication while growing up and had a significant hearing loss are more likely to be Deaf culture oriented. On the other hand, those who attended public school with no support services for the deaf, relied on their residual hearing and their voicing abilities and had mild or moderate hearing loss are likely to be more Hearing culture oriented. Although previous studies suggested that Bicultural or Deaf culture oriented individuals tend have higher self-esteem and satisfaction with life (Bat-Chava, 2000; Gilman, Easterbrooks & Frey, 2004; Maxwell-McCaw, 2001), this study indicated that those deaf and hard of hearing Northern Nevadans who are more Hearing culture oriented are likely to have higher quality of life. They tend to have higher self-esteem, higher educational level, higher civic well-being and higher income. However, future research is recommended to use a larger and wider sample and include more indicators to find how deafness-related factors and cultural competency influence overall quality of life.