“Members of the signing Deaf community argue that research which aims to eliminate or cure deafness is a form of cultural genocide,” Burke explains. “The argument goes like this: the use of gene therapy to cure hereditary deafness would result in smaller numbers of deaf children. This, in turn, would reduce the critical mass of signing Deaf people needed for a flourishing community, ultimately resulting in the demise of the community.”
Burke argues that people simply assume that life is better if you are able to hear sounds — that possessing a full complement of basic senses is better than missing a really important one.
“This bias of Hearing culture can be seen in the normative claim that it is better to be a member of the dominant, mainstream Hearing cultural community than to be a member of the non-dominant Deaf cultural community,” Burke writes.
“This claim is frequently stated but rarely argued for,” she says, and “this assumption about the typical being more valuable that the atypical is problematic and it requires examination.”
Suffering from hereditary deafness “confers on deaf children a Deaf way of being in the world” with “advantages” that “are not always obvious to members of the Hearing community.”
While cochlear implant surgery allows deaf people to choose to remove the implants and become deaf, gene therapy offers deaf children only the chilling prospect of permanent hearing ability. [emphasis added]
The simple, modern solution to this dilemma is to simply allow deaf children to "self-identify" as being capable of hearing as and when they chose, just as blind children can now self-identify as sighted.
A genetic cure for Downe's Syndrome? Hereditary blindness? Hell no, that would deprive us of people like professor Burke, who are deaf, dumb and blind.