Disability and Identity: A Study of Identity Patterns in Adolescents with Hearing Impairments

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Some children with physical disabilities are encouraged to identify exclusively with nondisabled persons, relinquishing any identity with others who have disabilities. This study was conducted to examine the implications of such a personal identification on adjustment. An instrument measuring identity choice was developed and administered to 111 students at a state school for persons with hearing impairments. Based on questionnaire responses, students were classified into three groups: those with a predominant hearing identity (able-bodied identity), those with a primary deaf identity (disabled identity), and those who identified with both groups (dual identity). Analyses focused on the relationship between the students' identity and indicators of the students' social relations, self-evaluations, academic achievement, and perceived family acceptance of their disability. The data indicated that an able-bodied identity was consistently associated with poorer outcomes and a dual identity with better outcomes.

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