Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Clinical ethics
Genetic selection for deafness: the views of hearing children of deaf adults


The concept of selecting for a disability, and deafness in particular, has triggered a controversial and sometimes acrimonious debate between key stakeholders. Previous studies have concentrated on the views of the deaf and hard of hearing, health professionals and ethicists towards reproductive selection for deafness. This study, however, is the first of its kind examining the views of hearing children of deaf adults towards preimplantation genetic diagnosis and prenatal diagnosis to select for or against deafness. Hearing children of deaf adults (or CODAs, as they call themselves, and are widely known in the deaf community) straddle both the deaf and hearing worlds, and this dual perspective makes them ideally placed to add to the academic discourse concerning the use of genetic selection for or against deafness. The study incorporated two complementary stages, using initial, semistructured interviews with key informants (CODAs and health professionals) as a means to guide the subsequent development of an electronic survey, completed anonymously by 66 individuals. The participants shared many of the same views as deaf individuals in the D/deaf (or “culturally deaf”) community. The similarities extended to their opinions regarding deafness not being a disability (45.5% believed deafness was a distinct culture rather than a disability), their ambivalence towards having hearing or deaf children (72.3% indicated no preference) and their general disapproval of the use of genetic technologies to select either for or against deafness (60% believed that reproductive technologies, when used to select for or against deafness, should not be available to the community).

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.

Linked Articles

  • The concise argument
    Søren Holm

Other content recommended for you