World Health Organisation is dangerous for Deaf people


(image description: painting by Nancy Rourke: 5 stylised children sitting in a classroom with hands chained and blindfolded)

First we need to understand audist/audism.

Audism is prejudiced beliefs about Deaf people. For example:

. that hearing people are superior to Deaf people;

. Deaf people should be pitied for having futile and miserable lives;

. not assisting with communication (you’d help a blind person cross the road wouldn’t you? So have a bit of patience communicating.)

. assuming Deaf people can’t do things like drive or get an education or become professionals in their chosen field

. believing Deaf people should become like hearing people as far as possible; and,

. shunning of Sign Languages.

In September 2018 an outrageous audist Call for Paper was published by the World Health Organisation (WHO) (pdf: Bulletin of the World Health OrganizationSeptember2018-18-221697).

The Call for Papers by Dr Shelly Chadha who leads the WHO Programme for Prevention of Deafness and Hearing Loss, wrongly claimed: “Hearing is important for achieving a good quality of life.” This is clearly absurd and incredibly offensive.

Shelly is an Ear Nose and Throat (ENT) doctor with a PhD in public health. She then wrote: “hearing loss is associated with delayed cognitive development in children“. Well yes it is. BUT and it’s a huge BUT, the cause, as Shelly should know is language deprivation because Deaf kids are not given Sign Language. The cause is not due to deafness or difficulty hearing.

By not mentioning this incredibly important fact, Shelly is contributing to the audist abuse of Deaf children’s rights to Sign Language. One third of children, even on a Cochlear Implant Program, do not develop proper language.

Shelly and the WHO should apologise and amend this Call for Papers.


Update 5 Sep 2018: I emailed Shelly on 2 Sept about this saying:

Dr Shelly Chadha
WHO programme for prevention of deafness and hearing loss
I saw your Call for Papers on hearing loss and was disgusted by your ignorant and destructive audism. Have you never heard of Sign Language? Do you not know that 1/3 of kids on a Cochlear Implant Program end up without any proper language? I suggest you amend your Call for Papers.
People like you enable the continued abuse of the rights of Deaf children to a language.
And here’s some info for you:
Yours in livid outrage
Kevin McCready
I also copied the email to Karen Reyes whose name was also on the Call for Papers saying:
I see you name is also on this Call for Papers, Karen. Very disappointed. Please tell me what steps WHO will take to eliminate Audism.
I got a joint reply 5 Sep saying:


Dear Mr Kevin McReady,

Thanks for reaching out to us. At WHO we value your opinion and take it seriously. It is unfortunate that this publication has led to such confusion.

In WHO, we envision a world in which no person experiences hearing loss due to preventable causes and those with hearing loss can achieve their full potential through rehabilitation, education and empowerment. This includes sign language.

We appreciate your feedback  and request for submission of papers that highlight the need and effectiveness of sign language.

Best regards

Shelly and Karen


I emailed back saying:

Thanks guys
Will you be publishing and apology to the Deaf community and an amended Call for Papers?
BTW, you’ve misspelt my family name.
I then got an immediate response which didn’t answer the question:

Dear Kevin McCready

Apologies again for having mis-spelt your name.


One thought on “World Health Organisation is dangerous for Deaf people

  1. Nancy Rourke’s painting presented a very strong message to the World Health Organization about Dr. Shelley
    Chadha’ s paper with the dangerous view of the Deaf and HARD of hearing population. This came at this period we are going through trying to fight against the medical professionals about their refusal to provide us with the ASL certified interpreters whenever we require a medical treatment. Instead, they tried to push VRI, abbreviated for Video Relay Interpreter which has been deemed the most ineffective mode of communication.
    Not only that, parents in their state of vulnerability and overwhelmness have been coerced into accepting the cochlear implants without ever meeting the Deaf people or professionals. Parents have had no group support with other parents facing the similar situation, neither received counseling about deafness.
    It is crucial that WHO gets the sensitivity training about this topic in order to change their view on the healthy perspective of Deafness, not the medical perspective,”Fix It”.


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