Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department / School

School of Communication and Journalism

First Advisor

Jenn Anderson


Communication, Communication Theory of Identity, Deafness, Disability, Family, Family Communication Patterns Theory


“Deafness in the context of the hearing family attacks the backbone of the family structure, namely communication” (Ahlert & Greeff, 2012, p. 402). There is a link between communication and identity, specifically the role of communication on identity (Jung & Hecht, 2004). The purpose of this study is to better understand the experiences of families with children who are deaf or hard of hearing by investigating the relationship between family communication patterns and identity. In this study, I conducted in-depth interviews with the parents of children who are hard of hearing to investigate family communication patterns and identity. Using Family Communication Patterns Theory and Communication Theory of Identity as a theoretical lens, seven participants within four families shared their experiences. Results show that these families were high in conversation orientation and did not create a family identity around their child’s hearing loss. Participants also described their experiences of family communication with their child who is hard of hearing, including the challenges, triumphs, and chosen communication mode. These results offer a greater understanding of these families and introduce important theoretical and practical implications.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Deaf children -- Means of communication.
Deaf children -- Family relationships.
Hearing impaired children -- Means of communication.
Hearing impaired children -- Family relationships.
Parents of deaf children.
Communication in families.



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University



Rights Statement

In Copyright