A discourse of “abnormality”: Exploring discussions of people living in australia with deafness or hearing loss

Danielle Ferndale, Louise Munro, Bernadette Maria Watson

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


DOPTING a social constructionist framework, the authors conducted a synthetic discourse analysis to explore how people living in Australia with deafness construct their experience of deafness. An online forum facilitated access and communication between the lead author and 24 widely dispersed and linguistically diverse forum contributors. The authors discuss the productive and restrictive effects of the emergent discourse of deafness as abnormal and the rhetorical strategies mobilized in people’s accounts: fitting in, acceptance as permission to be different, and the need to prove normality. Using these strategies was productive in that the forum respondents were enabled to reposition deafness as a positive, socially valued identity position. However, the need to manage deafness was reproduced as an individual concern, disallowing any exploration of how deafness could be reconstructed as socially valued. The article concludes with a discussion of the implications of the deafness as abnormal discourse.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)483-495
Number of pages13
JournalAmerican Annals of the Deaf
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Deafness and hearing loss
  • Discourse analysis
  • Discourse of deafness as abnormal

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Speech and Hearing


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