Subjective and Objective Aspects of Deafness and Blindness

Simon Hayhoe

Research output: Other contribution


In order to simplify a definition of deafness and blindness, it is necessary to see these conceptualizations in the context of a social and cultural epistemology of impairment. Firstly, impairment can be defined by the individual given particular circumstances: what an individual can do in given circumstances. This can be referred to as Subjective Impairment, and is so called because it examines each person’s trait according to its context and subject: the environment, the task, the man, the woman, the girl or the boy, not the impaired identity of the person. For instance, I have no hearing impairment whilst I am reading a book, but I have a walking impairment when I am carrying heavy shopping bags. Thus, my identification as a hearing impaired person by others is based on a number of different subjective concepts to those of a perception of my lived reality in many situations; i.e. although my hearing problem only takes up a little of my life and its degree of annoyance or impairment is dependent on individual circumstances, this is felt to control enough of my normal existence to constitute disadvantage, suffering or discomfort.
Original languageEnglish
TypeDiscussion Paper
Media of outputToronto University Website
PublisherThe Bubble Chamber
Place of PublicationToronto, Canada
Publication statusPublished - 3 Feb 2011


  • objectivity
  • subjectivity
  • ontology
  • deaf
  • blind
  • sensory impairment
  • Philosophy


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