Friday, April 29, 2011
Where I was raised, the term "hearing impaired" was tagged on me when I was young. Then, it was just a mild loss, hardly noticeable to me or others. The recurring ear infections caught up and rendered me in the ranges of severe in my 30's when I was categorized as "disabled", and some ranges of profound by the time I was in my 40's. As I approach my 60's, who knows? I may be even more profoundly deaf by then. All my life, we've referred to my hearing loss as a "hearing impairment". This simply means my ears don't work as well as they used to. My hearing has become impaired.
I always felt that the term "hearing impaired" was a great description of how my EARS and HEARING are impaired. I don't see well these days, I wear glasses. I have no trouble saying I have a vision impairment.
For some of the isolated communities farther up north from us here in the Eastern U. S., "hard of hearing" is the traditional phrase going back generations, kind of like using "thou" and "thee" in our Bibles. It is passed down generation after generation. Some of us still use these words, some of us don't.
I took classes in college when I was losing my hearing. We did not have ASL in the decades I lived there. I learned Signing Exact English. I'm currently teaching young children ASL and learning the beautiful language by watching the interpreters and the Deaf at church.
Neither I, nor anyone else, mean any disrespect when using the term "hearing impaired" or using the initialized "h" and "i" next to our ears for the sign "hearing impaired".