Deaf and Hearing Individuals' Beliefs About the Capabilities of Deaf People

The study explored the beliefs of 100 residents of Greece about the capabilities of deaf people living in that country. Participants included deaf adults who communicated in Greek Sign Language (GSL), deaf adults who communicated orally, hearing adults who attended GSL courses, and hearing adults who did not attend such courses. Beliefs were explored through the ODP (Opinions About Deaf People) scale (Berkay, Gardner, & Smith, 1995) and an open-ended interview. All participant groups viewed deaf people's capabilities positively, but Deaf users of GSL expressed the most positive beliefs. The findings suggest that less positive beliefs reflect diverse ideological views toward GSL and Deaf culture or an awareness of the obstacles preventing deaf people from developing their potential. The Deaf community's role in empowering deaf people and the role of GSL courses in promoting awareness regarding deaf people are also discussed.