On March 29 I wrote about sign language interpreters. I included a sentence from a deaf and hard of hearing source that included the term “hearing impaired.”  I received a comment from someone in the deaf and hard of hearing community and I thought his/her comments were very helpful and important; so I am including the comments so we all can learn from the author’s personal insights and knowledge…

“Please be advised that the term, “hearing impaired” is unacceptable. Here is the explanation:

The term “Hearing Impaired” is a technically accurate term much preferred by hearing people, largely because they view it as politically correct. In the mainstream society, to boldly state one’s disability (e.g., deaf, blind, etc.) is somewhat rude and impolite. To their way of thinking, it is far better to soften the harsh reality by using the word “impaired” along with “visual”, “hearing”, and so on. “Hearing-impaired” is a well-meaning word that is much-resented by deaf and hard of hearing people. This term was popular in the 70s and 80s, however, now is used mostly by doctors, audiologists and other people who are mainly interested in our ears “not working.”

While it’s true that their hearing is not perfect, that doesn’t make them impaired as people. Most would prefer to be called Deaf, Hard of Hearing or deaf when the need arises to refer to their hearing status, but not as a primary way to identify them as people (where their hearing status is not significant).

We are deaf, and not people with impairments (obstacles) in life!”

The author also included the following resources:

http://www.eastersealscrossroads.org/blog/2011/september/deaf-vs-hearing-impaired
http://www.deafau.org.au/info/terminology.php
http://nad.org/issues/american-sign-language/community-and-culture-faq