What is the difference between a person who is “deaf” or “hard of hearing”?
A deaf person is any person who has any degree of hearing loss in either or both ears, regardless of preferred communication mode.
A Deaf person is any person with hearing loss who prefers to use sign language to communicate and are a part of the Deaf community.
A Hard-of-hearing person is any person with hearing loss that is usually acquired post-lingually and prefers to use speech for communication.
These are the terms that deaf people identify by as these terms show respect and accord dignity to deaf people.
Why is it wrong to use terms such as “deaf-mute,” “deaf and dumb,” or “hearing-impaired”?
These terms are outdated, offensive, and no longer accepted by most in deaf people. The media and general public should need to refrain from using these terms.
The term “mute” means silent and without voice. This label is technically inaccurate. Generally, deaf people have functioning vocal chords and their quality of speech is dependent on factors including speech therapy, personal traits, level of residual hearing, and support received.
The term “dumb” is offensive and was associated with the deaf because there was a difference in communication modality. Today, more is understood of deaf people, community and language. Deaf people are educated and are as capable as hearing people.
The term “hearing-impaired” is used in the medical field to identify persons with hearing loss. Most deaf people do not prefer being identified with this term because of the negative connotation of the word “impaired”. The term focuses on fixing them even though they see their deafness as a different way of life that is just as fulfilling as that of hearing people.
Is there a social stigma against the deaf?
The perception of the deaf has improved over the years with society being more encouraging and inclusive. The main issue is the lack of understanding of the deaf community, their culture and also sign language. The lack of direct communication and exposure to deaf people has stunted the understanding of deaf people by hearing people.