Deaf vs hard of hearing. What’s the difference and what am I?
It’s a very common question that I hear all the time. People ask me that and I see it searched on Google, so I thought “let me answer it for you” and I’m going to answer it in two different ways.
Watch the video below, or scroll down to read the transcript:
What’s the difference between deaf / hard of hearing?
1) It’s not any different at all.
2) It’s very different.
Yep, I know I made it very confusing, two answers. I shouldn’t be doing that, It’s not allowed.
But allow me explain why I’ve given these two answers.
Is it different at all?
Let me start off with it’s not very different all.
Well, the reason I say that is because there are conversations going on that maybe it should just be one label and that’s it called deaf.
That is there’s no need for all the different terminologies like capital ‘D’ Deaf, small ‘d’ deaf, deafblind, deafdisabled, late deafened and hard of hearing.
It’s not very different. They’re all same thing. Just have one label: deaf.
But then your other answer is that it is very different.
Because hard of hearing implies that you have a moderate to maybe mild hearing kind of situation where it’s not severe.
You can hear some things or a lot of things. You don’t use sign language as your first language.
So it’s very different because there’s a perception that deaf means that you can’t hear very much or at all.
So that’s why I’ve given you that answer as well.
So what does that make me then?
And then to answer the question of what am I, well I don’t know, it’s not that straightforward.
Because you see, I grew up in a mainstream hearing world.
I went to a mainstream school.
I hear most things okay.
I speak orally.
I don’t use sign language as my first language.
So immediately, that puts me into the hard of hearing.
And that’s how I have always labelled myself. Because the word “deaf” has a perception or meaning that you can’t hear very much or at all.
So it is different in that sense.
But over time, I have struggled with my own identity and I’ve struggled to kind of embrace that until the past couple of years, and doing these videos.
And it made me realize that, you know, I should embrace that more and also made me think about am I using the wrong “label”, the wrong terminology to describe myself because it’s a very very grey area.
And because of the common perception that the word deaf mean that you can’t hear much or at all, then naturally I didn’t use the word deaf a lot.
Why I don’t like ‘hearing loss’ or ‘hearing impaired’?
However, I didn’t like the word hearing impaired and a lot of people don’t like that as well. Hearing impaired or hearing impairment; it implies that there is something wrong with you and kinds of put in a negative way.
So I never liked that word at all. At the same time I did originally accept hearing loss, but then I realized that doesn’t describe me very well because I haven’t lost anything.
I have always had that same situation all my life. Most people will say that if you have something and then you’ve lost it, then okay, you’ve lost it.
So if we had perfect hearing and then you’ve lost it, some people prefer to be called, you know “I have a hearing loss” and that’s their way.
Other people don’t, especially those who are more profound d/Deaf because they feel like they haven’t lost anything.
If anything, they have gained a new world to have their own culture, their own identity, their own language and they see it as a positive thing, not a negative thing.
So not everyone will embrace the word “hearing loss”, which is quite confusing as well.
So because of that, I’ve always used the word “hard of hearing” over “hearing loss” or “hearing impaired”.
Using the word ‘deaf’ more often
I am starting to use the word “deaf” even more now, especially, you know, over the past couple of years when I’m being more vocal about it.
And even there was a Twitter conversation I was part of about the use of the word deaf, capital ‘D’ Deaf, the deafblind, deaf-disabled, late deafened and hard of hearing all these words, do we need it?
Should we have just under one word, “deaf”, and nothing else?
And I had gotten involved with the conversation and I explained my situation and the person who described herself as deaf, she said that “I see you as deaf”, regardless of whether it’s severe, whether you’re using sign language or not…we are all under that label.
In my eyes, you are deaf.— It’s Jules! (@julesdameron) March 20, 2019
And I felt okay with that. I felt fine with being called “deaf”, even though a lot people say you’re not deaf, you’re hard of hearing.
But frankly, not up to you. It’s up to me. Let that be very clear.
You don’t decide: I or we decide the label.
What does that mean for you?
So what does that mean? Should I use the word deaf or hard of hearing?
Well, to be honest, you can use either. I’m okay with both, however, I am leaning towards the word deaf because, well, it looks like I’m going that direction anyway and maybe our lose the tag of hard of hearing in the future.
Who knows? Maybe that would be another video in the efuture if something like that happened to me.
But I’m okay with both and I’m okay with having that label because for me, well I see it as one label. I see it as the same thing.
But then there are other people who will see it differently. But after that’s the point, it’s not up to you.
One person might say one thing, another person might say another.
And my advice for you is to ask that person; what do they prefer to be called? Is it hearing impaired? Is it hearing loss? ls it deafblind?Is it hard of hearing?
Ask that person because they get to choose their identities, not you.
And I should also point out that the word “deaf” is not an insult. You are allowed to use that as long as we say in a positive way.
You don’t say, [negative tone] “oh he’s deaf. You just say [normal tone] “He’s deaf”.
That’s it! It’s not a negative things to use.
And if you use that word to towards me, I’d be okay with that. It’s fine. It’s part of who I am part and many, many people.
But like I said, just ask before you assume or you imply anything.
So what’s the difference between deaf and hard of hearing? Well, for me personally, I don’t see it as being very different at all.
However, I am very curious to know what you think: whether you’re hearing or whether you’re hard of hearing or whether you’re deaf, whatever it is you prefer to label yourself.
Let me know what you think is the different between deaf and hard of hearing? And what do you prefer to choose? What do you prefer to use?
And let me know in a comment down below. I would love to know your opinion.
As well as that, make sure you hit subscribe button, it would be awesome if you could do that.
And of course I will come back with another video, another time, in the future.
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- Hearing privilege: What is it and why it’s important to acknowledge them? - July 23, 2020