When society thinks about medical diseases or conditions that affect persons, there are divergent perceptions attached to the persons suffering the said ailments. Sometimes the stigma is worse than the physical pain a person might suffer. This is because stigma is the ugly side to the beauty myth. It causes the persons suffering an illness to suffer social ostracism out of the irrational fear of infection by the larger section of society. This interferes with the normal social interactions and as a result, persons suffering ailments have to adapt socially, psychologically and physically to fit into society. This paper seeks to examine the stigma attached to persons with hearing impairments. Despite this not being a physical disability, it alters their social interactions, affects them psychologically and affects their quality of life.
AREA OF STUDY
In order to have a fair balance of the variables involved in the research, the study will have a preference toward sub-urban residences immediately outside the city. The sub-urban residence will have persons who have a better knowledge of their neighbours. Thus, the researcher can identify a person familiar with the neighbourhood to act as a guide during the research. This will ease the process of gaining acceptance into the deaf community .persons who are marginalized by society tend to form close-knit social circles. They do not take kindly to ‘intruders’. Having a familiar face vouch for the researcher will ease the acceptance process. In this way, the respondents will tend to be more honest in their responses.
The theory of communication proposes that communication influences the structure of a society. Keeping in line with this school of thought, the main aim of the study will be an examination of the psychological and physical changes persons with hearing impairments make to ease the frustration of communicating with persons without hearing impairments. Due to the nature of this study, persons living with hearing loss will the constant variable, thus making this the dependant variable. Other factors such as age, gender, area of residence and employment status will be the independent variables. Persons with a hearing ability who interact with the main respondents will also feature on interview to get a balanced feel of the study.
The study will use a variety of research questions designed to cover the daily routine of the respondents as closely as possible. Each research question will have a corresponding hypothesis under evaluation.
The following is a sample of the research questions and hypotheses:
The focus of this study will be persons who suffer from hearing loss with a particular interest in those who were either born deaf or turned deaf in their early years. The study will lean towards persons between the ages of 30 and 65. Having respondents aged between 30 and 65 years enables the researcher capture persons who have experienced stigmatizing situations from an early age. The respondents will represent both genders. To ease the data collection process, the study will give persons with high school level education priority since they are more likely to have exposure to the use sign language.
Other variable that are under examination include the ethnicity, gender, employment status, marital status and the area of residence. The study will have a bias towards persons from minority groups. This is a deliberate effort to examine the effects of stigma on an already stigmatized group among the population. The study will attempt to identify the spill-over effect of ethnic marginalization on persons with hearing impairments. To ensure there is an accurate gender representation in the sample size, the researcher will cross-reference the respondent select against public records such as medical records. This will enable the researcher make an accurate sample selection.
The study will utilize primary and secondary sources of data. The primary data collection will use open- ended questionnaires. In case of any difficulty in question interpretation, the researcher will employ the help of persons with the technical expertise of sign language. The sign language expert will also assist the researcher conduct interviews. This will ensure both the interviewer and the interviewee are comfortable and not hindered by communication difficulties. This will limit the number of errors that can result from miscommunication. It is advisable for the researcher to attend a few sign language classes to have a basic understanding of the communication.
Secondary data will utilize records found in local hospitals, schools and government institutions. To adhere to due process, the researcher may require supporting documents from the respective learning institution. This will aid the data collection process and prove the validity of the research. This is necessary because the documents will have sensitive personal information. Finally, all the data collected for analysis. Any assumptions made during analysis are relevant when presenting the results. Regression analysis can compress the large amount of data to retain the basic independent variables (such as age and education) that affect the dependent variable (the quality of life)
STATISTICAL TEST FOR SIGNIFICANCE
The research will utilise the t-test for statistical significance. This will analyse the individual significance of the independent variables. The F-test will also evaluate the overall significance of the study. The population sample will assume a normal distribution to simplify data analysis. Standard deviation will analyse the deviation of the data from the expected results.
SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
The study is instrumental in evaluating the impact of stigma on the quality of life of an individual of a group of minority living with impairment. It is necessary to understand how persons with hearing impairments cope with the discriminative social structure they must embrace. This is because social participation and communication are instrumental in establishing social relationships. Results from this study can contribute to providing information that will benefit the whole society. The findings can contribute to public sensitization on the difficulties faced by the deaf community. It will also help us understand how different variables interact and influence the outcome of a person’s life. It will also shed light on practises members of the deaf community can adopt to ease their normalization process into the larger section of society.