Why Deaf*? We don’t like labels or categories. After all, when we’re stripped down to the bone, we are all the same. We use Deaf* to recognize the beauty and heart of our community and to include a variety of Deaf* identities. The bottom line is that, especially here, you are you and we love you for that.
We use Deaf* to represent all those who identify as D/deaf, hard of hearing, DeafBlind, late deafened, and more.
We do not use the word “hearing loss”. It implies that we are lacking something, especially when some of us have never been born with hearing so it isn’t really a loss. Also, it implies that being hearing is the standard and that a person with “hearing loss” is substandard because he doesn’t fit what society says is “normal”.
We also do not use the word “hearing impaired”. It has a subliminal connotation that we are impaired and a incomplete human.
So, here- we embrace being Deaf*. We say, “ignore what society says. You are wonderful and whole. You are not lacking anything. You have a ticket to an unique culture that only Deaf Community* members have the fortune to be a part of.”
So we simply say, “Deaf*.” We never say, “hearing loss,” “hearing impaired,” “disabled,” “deaf and dumb,” “deaf-mute,” or “handicapped.” The only exception is if the Deaf* person him/herself publicity identifies as so.
Here are some ideas on how you can use different words to avoid ableism:
- Deaf* not hearing loss, hearing impaired, deaf and dumb, deaf-mute
- Hearing level not hearing loss
- Different competencies not handicapped or disabled
When we refer to the community as whole, we use Deaf Community* or Deaf*. This way this avoids implying that there is a vertical gap between the hearing community and Deaf Community*. While yes, there is a difference between the two- it is a horizontal gap, all are still seen as equal.
This is part of the Deafhood attitude we practice around here. It is a very big reason why our campers feel revitalized when they leave, knowing that there is nothing “wrong” with them and that they can do anything they want to do.
Just to emphasize, Deafhood is about accepting and learning within the variety within our community: hard of hearing, oral, SEE, ASL, cochlear implants, hearing aids, no assistive devices, or what have you. We don’t frown upon different lifestyles or preferences. Rather, we encourage embracing the differences and teach others how to learn and grow from this experience.