You Think You See, But You Have No Idea

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Jasper, Alabama, United States

Friday, January 23, 2009

Cringe if you must, this is me...

Okay. So I'm reading my comments and I come across this one. I must confess I was baffled.

Every time I read your blog I cringe. Have you taken a Deaf Culture class? Have you educated yourself fully? I just had to let you know that saying "Hearing Impaired" is incredibly disturbing the the Deaf/HOH community. Hard of Hearing (HOH) is the term that we prefer. Saying impaired implies so many negative attributes. If you notice MANY of your commentors also use the Hard of Hearing term. I encourage you to investigate this further and talk to other HOH people.

Why would anyone care if I referred to myself as hearing impaired? There's a "politically correct" way to describe yourself, in your own personal blog? I do consider myself well educated, in fact I would say I've got 30 years of experience being hearing impaired and furthermore why would I need to educate myself in the proper way to reference myself while writing my own blogs about my own self discovery as a hearing impaired person?
Also I don't consider myself culturally deaf so the Deaf Culture concept has never really appealed to me as a lifestyle. I've never taken a Deaf Culture class, not that I wouldn't find it interesting, but I do have friends that are deaf and live within the deaf community and my life experiences as a hearing impaired person trying to function in the hearing world is not the same as that of my deaf friends. Actually, I don't feel like I belong to any one group. I'm just me. If you were to describe me as being deaf, hard of hearing, or hearing impaired it would all be just fine.
I don't think people should be made to feel shame or be afraid to talk about things because they might offend someone, especially when that wasn't their intention. I also don't think people should take offence to something when nothing was meant to be offensive.
We all have different stories and backgrounds, and the way we refer to ourselves varies based upon where those stories and backgrounds have lead us. Whats negative about that?
If you, yourself like to be referred to as HOH instead of hearing impaired, I totally respect your decision, but what does that have to do with me?


Rachel @ Cochlear Implant Online said...

Hi there! I've received several comments that are similar to yours on my blog whenever I mention that I'm hearing impaired. Not only that I've received comments that I should not call myself hearing impaired, but some will tell me as a cochlear implant user, I should define myself as a deaf person because when I take my CI off, I can't hear a thing. I always cringed when I received those comments. So, I can completely understand how you feel. It's none of people business to tell us how we should define ourselves. Just be who you are, and don't let anyone dictate to you on how you should define who you are.

Amy Kay said...

Thanks Rachel! Its great to know I'm not the only one. Your doing a great service to the hearing impaired, HOH, and Deaf community with your website.
Keep up the good work.

Mog said...

Hi, I too am puzzled about why I can't call myself hearing impaired. It's true, my hearing is impaired, if it wasn't then I would be able to hear. Hard of Hearing just doesn't descibe it at all. It's not just hard to hear, its very hard, sometimes downright impossible!

SpeakUp Librarian said...

I'm glad you responded to that comment and stood up for yourself.
When I took an ASL course, the instructor emphasized that the term "hearing impaired" was very offensive. For myself I generally use "hard of hearing" but when requesting an accomodation sometimes I have to use "hearing impaired".
I don't know the commenter personally but it's possible that she doesn't want any of the negativity associated with the term "impaired" to become associated with you - your unique self.
All the best as ever,

KV Creative Designs said...

The word "impaired" is a huge negative statement. It implies that there is something "wrong" with you? Do you feel that something is wrong with you? I don't. Why would you want to express yourself negatively? I feel that I just can't hear as well as others.

I was not trying to be negative or judgemental. I was simply trying to educate you a little, as many do in the Deaf/HOH community. I grew up in the "Hearing" world with a hearing aid (without it, I am deaf) for over 30 years too and have recently started becoming more involved in the Deaf Community. I do not feel I belong in one or the other either. However, I would not want to have any negative associations, especially when raising a child. My daughter knows that "hearing impaired" is not the correct term to use with anyone that has a hearing loss or is deaf. When you use the term, you also have used it in reference to others and your child. Why would it hurt to educate yourself further and to educate others? For those who know me personally, know this was not meant to be an attack on you. I am a very positive person and if you read my blog, you will see that. Why is it wrong to want to express oneself possitively instead of negatively? Just like Sarah said, you are Unique in your own right.

kym said...

labels are an awful thing, aren't they?

just continue being 'you'. that's good enough.


Anonymous said...

Hi Amy,

Since 1993, I became suddenly deaf in one ear and now wear a hearing aid in the "good" ear. Other than inconvenience "hearing" friends and family, my hearing loss doesn't change who I am at the core. Sure, I miss things from time to time, but I always catch up. I design and produce the Hearing Loss Magazine (for the last 5 years) and am, for the first time, surrounded my staff and members who have varying degrees of hearing loss. I personally am NOT offended at the term "hearing impaired." The word "impairment" means "diminished, damaged, or weakened; functioning poorly, etc. It is NOT the norm to have a hearing loss. I would venture to say that more people do NOT having profound hearing loss than do. Would that be safe to say? So to be considered "not of the norm" isn't offensive to me whatsoever. That's just me. I have enough confidence and self-esteem that perhaps that's the only reason the term "impaired" isn't offensive to me. If I were introduced as "hearing impaired," I wouldn't find it offensive. I am what I am. I am not less because of it...not one iota! I don't feel like I'm treated differently (other than people try to talk to me on my "good" side when they remember) by anyone. Whether I wear my hearing aid or not, I have not been treated in a way that offended me. I'm sure that's not the case with everyone, though. I have an "impaired sense of hearing." That makes me hearing impaired. A hearing aid helps me when I need it. I don't think you should apologize for how you choose to define yourself. How you choose to define others is another topic altogether.

JoeyRes said...

I am confused by all of this. As a parent of a hearing aid user (did that upset anyone?) I have to call it something. Just sending her off to school without letting anyone know her hearing is different would be a worse mistake than using the wrong terminology.

小小彬 said...
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