Hearing impaired, deaf and dumb, and deaf: what is the correct way to refer to a person who has a hearing impairment and who uses sign language? Think … Take your time … I think most people have been in doubt between the first two, and have instantly discarded the third option. Am I right? But I am sorry to inform those who thought this way that those people of whom I am referring, demand to be called DEAF. Please never say that a deaf person is deaf and dumb, or hard of hearing (HH).
To change the way we see the deaf, we need to destroy and redo some concepts, and to seek to have a vision in a more sociocultural than biological aspect. When we use the term impaired, we are putting the deaf in the group of the disabled by hearing loss – we are seeing deafness as something pathological. However, this is not true. The only barrier imposed by deafness is the difficulty in communicating with hearing people. Except for this, they are able to work, go out, learn whatever they want, relate to other people, etc. So we can say that deafness is a difference and not a disability.
Moreover, this term by itself carries a burden of PREJUDICE, and as for the deaf and dumb term, the word dumb denotes absence of language, and loss of the speech apparatus, and these are not the realities of the deaf. They, with the help of a professional speech therapist, are able to oralize. In addition, Sign Language is a real language, with all the complexity of the others.
So, from now on, use the term DEAF – but remember that even this word brings with it diversity in its essence, as there is no “the deaf”, but “all the deaf”.