The Social Construction of
In almost all English literature the "Deaf" are referred to without gender. In text books and media, Deaf people are referred to as "the Deaf," the Deaf Community, members of Deaf culture, Deaf students, Deaf adults, children with hearing impairments, clients who are deaf, Deaf consumers, Deaf trainees, Deaf employees or Deaf people. While several of these terms suggest a broader identity than just a person who cannot hear, none of them give any indication of gender. Thus the Deaf child by default becomes either a boy without hearing or a neutered Deaf child, but rarely a girl who is deaf.
In almost every case, being Deaf serves as a master status which eclipses other social categories and this construction is a particular outcome of education and schooling. Most of the factors which influence the status of a Deaf adult as a member of a minority are learned or socialized at school. For example, linguistic capacity, attitudes towards Deafness, behavioral patterns, historical awareness of Deaf culture, and association with voluntary organizations generally have their roots at a school for the Deaf or in a classroom for Deaf students.
School as Total institution
A school is a very significant place for learning role for future life. Systemic and authorized education of any population is powerful, but residential schooling has significantly more influence in shaping a person because of the intensity of structured and unstructured contact with others in one location. Educational professionals often have the intention of "rehabilitating" the Deaf person or teaching the Deaf person how to be "hearing-like" or "Deaf- like." The unwritten curriculum of the school no doubt includes gender role in very significant ways, but the focus of attention is almost exclusively on the students as a Deaf child.
In schools for the Deaf and in research about Deaf children, deafness seems to bring together people who would otherwise be different across class, gender, culture and race. Donald Evans and William Falk have described, through an ethnography of a school, how the "total institution" of a school creates a significant influence over Deaf students: "Few people outside the residential school will have linguistic or symbolic access to the child, to his (her) definitions of reality. Black and white, rich and poor, male and female, are all thrown together in one place. For these children, the school serves as a comprehensive or total institution that provides the construction of their first self."l