Your Questions About An Impaired Use Of Language

April 28, 2013

Mark asks…

Is there any difference between deaf and hearing impaired?

When does hearing loss become classified as deaf or hearing impaired? Is it when it hits a certain percentage of hearing loss?
What if you can hear, but only very little and hearing aids don’t help?

admin answers:

Really the words “hearing impaired” is just another way of saying deafness, but it can also include those who have mild to moderate hearing loss. Let’s say that you want have an educational program for students whom have hearing loss. To call it a “deaf program” would be too limited, so they would typically use the terms “hearing impaired” instead to cover all ranges of hearing loss.

I went to a mainstream hearing impaired program at a public school during elementary school. There are state schools for the deaf where sign language is the main mode of communication. They use the word “deaf” because that is more of what they specialize in.

Look here on this chart

Degrees of hearing loss is classifed as: mild, moderate, moderate to severe, severe, and profound based on how much they can hear. Those whom have mild to moderate hearing loss are considered “hard-of-hearing” and those that have severe to profound hearing loss are “deaf.”

Hard of hearing people can understand what they hear with hearing aids, such has talking on the phone, recognize most sounds without problems. Those who are deaf, even when they wear hearing aids, they can’t talk on the phone or recognize all sounds, just some of it.

I’m profoundly deaf and wear hearing aids. I can’t talk on the phone, but I can hear about 50% of sounds with my hearing aids. Without my hearing aids, I hear nothing.

Sharon asks…

What is the proper way to refer to someone who cannot hear: deaf, hearing impaired, hard of hearing?

I have a friend who is…deaf?… and she always corrects people when they ask if she’s deaf by saying she’s hearing impaired. However, I’ve seen movies/TV/videos in which people say its never okay to say “hearing impaired“, you should say “deaf.” So now I’m pretty confused. Is it a personal preference? What do you think?

PS. Do people in the deaf community refer to people who aren’t deaf as “hearing” people?


admin answers:

“Hearing-impaired”, one may find it insulting. See the last word, impaired. Who would like to be called ‘impaired’?

Deaf – a person who cannot hear like a hearing person

Deaf – a person who is a part of a Deaf community and uses sign language (notice the capitalized D), a person from a minority group

culturally Deaf – a person who is proud of him being Deaf and uses sign language as a primarily language and is part of a Deaf community

Hard of hearing – a person who has some residual hearing left and utilizes it with a hearing aid, he may be able to communicate with others. He may either use sign language or reject it. He may socialize with hearing people only, or live in both worlds: with hearing and Deaf people.

Some proper medical terms to describe one losing his natural hearing: deaf, deafness, hearing disability.

Disability might be more proper than impaired, but not disabled. Get what I mean?

Lizzie asks…

What is the difference between “hearing impaired” and “deaf” ???

I notice that some people use the term hearing impaired, and other people use the term deaf… is there any special reason for this? Is one term better than the other? Do they mean the same thing, or does one mean something different, like different kinds of hearing loss or something?

admin answers:

“Hearing Impaired” is considered politically correct by the hearing world, however many Deaf/deaf and hard of hearing people don’t really like the term.

Deaf = culturally deaf
deaf = medically deaf

Hard of hearing would most likely be used for someone with a mild to moderately severe hearing loss. Those who are hard of hearing can still call themselves Deaf.

Deaf culture involves their own language (ASL in the USA, different for other countries), art, poetry/literature, history, and so forth. But not everyone identifies as a part of Deaf culture.

See audiogram below for classification of hearing losses on an audiogram.

Any questions feel free to ask.

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