Deaf Life Guards - Should They Be Allowed? | Teen Ink

Deaf Life Guards - Should They Be Allowed? MAG

By Unknown, Unknown, Unknown

   Deaf Lifeguards

Should they be allowed?

by Megan C., Congers, NY Adrowning child in a public pool frantically flails his arms and legs, screaming for help. The lifeguard should notice the child and rescue him, but what if the lifeguard can't hear? Would that make a difference? This is a controversial situation happening at public pools all over the nation. Many believe that Deaf* lifeguards are a safety threat, but the truth is that hearing is not always important to lifeguarding. Sometimes not being able to hear is an advantage.

A Deaf person is essentially the same as anyone else and can perform most jobs - including lifeguarding. People with disabilities are guaranteed the same job opportunities as everyone else under the Public Law 94-142 and can't be discriminated against because of a disability. Though PL 94-142 does guarantee equal job opportunities for the Deaf, it does not give them special privileges for a job. That means a Deaf lifeguard must have the same qualifications and abilities as a hearing person.

In a job such as lifeguarding, not being able to hear could be an asset. Sounds can frequently distract a lifeguard. For example, if the pool or beach area is very loud, the lifeguard may not be able to hear someone's cries for help. If the lifeguard gets into a conversation with someone else, his/her concentration is distracted from the pool. Since they cannot rely on their hearing, Deaf lifeguards will focus all their concentration on watching the water. Also, Deaf people have superior visual skills and may often see something that a hearing person would not. This is an asset because when a person, especially a child, is drowning, sometimes he/she doesn't have the ability to call for help and keen visual skills would come in handy.

Deaf lifeguards are just the same as any other lifeguard. Clearly, the subject of Deaf lifeguards is a prime example of not judging a book by its cover. ?

*Deaf individuals prefer to have the D in "deaf" capitalized.

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This article has 8 comments.

i love this so much!

NJLifeguard said...
on Feb. 18 2014 at 7:06 am
Drowning victims do NOT call for help. If a person calls for help, you can pretty much rest assured that they're not drowning. I believe that the greatest challenge for deaf lifeguards would be communicating with patrons. This issue could be partially resolved by never having deaf lifeguards on the stand alone and by hiring more oral lifeguards who can read lips.

on Oct. 13 2012 at 9:39 pm
FreeLOTR SILVER, Aurora, Indiana
7 articles 16 photos 23 comments

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Very good article. You should come and work for My company. I, personally, work for a very strict lifeguard company. We are required to scan our water with our eyes, ears, head, and mind, constantly. The managers even have people fake drown to test us. So, you see, my company would be a very good company for any Deaf person to work for. Also, in every experience I have had in rescues, the person drowning never called help. If it werent that i saw them with my eyes, they would have died... Tell this to the next lifeguard company who turns down a Deaf person...

Reachnora said...
on Feb. 3 2012 at 10:39 am
Thank you... i'm a lifeguard myself and yes i'm Deaf :) I talked with my sister who is hearing, i told her that i'm a lifeguard. She said nothing then i asked what does she think of a Deaf lifeguard. She said bad idea then i said why? She said what if someone who is drowning and scream for help? I said when a person who is drowning, she or he will not be able to scream for help because when she or he is drowning, the water will goes in her or his mouth so therefore she or he will not be able to scream!

APKS said...
on May. 12 2011 at 1:39 pm
Can a hering person communicate under water?  A deaf person can!  Does a deaf person have greater visual acuity?  Yes.  I'm not sure that we should have hearing life guards.  It seems to me that deaf life guarda are better equiped for the job.

NoPetrol said...
on May. 29 2010 at 4:07 pm
It's true that being able to hear is not always necessary for a lifeguard to complete his or her duties, but sometimes it is.  Therefore, deaf people cannot be as effective lifeguards as people who can hear, and should not hold that job, and the job should be reserved for people who can hear.  The law says that reasonable accommodations must be made for people with disabilities, but no accommodation can be made that will enable a deaf life guard to perform the job the same way a person who can hear can.  Unfortunately, that is what the word "disability" means.  A person who has a disability cannot do certain things.  There are plenty of other jobs that deaf people can hold without compromising other people's safety. 

emoluver21 said...
on Dec. 10 2009 at 8:50 pm
i love this article because it was so informative and helpful

huerta said...
on Dec. 9 2009 at 6:46 pm
i think that this is reasllly good information it really helped me a lot with my homework.