Deaf vs deaf
People in 2018 are very aware of labels, names, categories, etc. It is not politically correct to call people "disabled",but some people prefer to be called 'disabled.' Others prefer to be called "differently abled." I have learned long ago, that it is not my place to decide what to "label" or "call " people. I do my best and hope people will politely share with me how they would like to be addressed.
When it comes to hearing loss, there are many ways people want to be addressed. Some people say, "Deaf". Some people say, "deaf". Some people say, " hearing impaired," while others feel offended by that term. Some people say, " hard of hearing " even if they have no hearing and use a cochlear implant.
When I work with my students, I try to explain the medical terms vs the cultural terms. It is not my place to decide for them how they refer to themselves,but I do try to educate.
If a person is 'deaf', that literally means that on an audiogram, when their hearing is tested, they have a significant hearing loss. That means they can not hear without amplification. For some, it means that even with hearing aids, there is no understandable hearing. This person may use a cochlear implant and be able to understand spoken language after much therapy. For someone to be labeled "hard of hearing", it usually means a person has hearing loss,but in the mid ranges. This person does get benefit from a hearing aid and is able to understand spoken language.
When a person identifies himself as " Deaf", it is related to culture. It means he feels he belongs to the Deaf culture-knows/uses American Sign Language, does not feel like he has "lost" anything because he can 't hear some or all spoken language. He may have a significant hearing loss or a mild one,but it is how he culturally feels. A person who calls herself "hearing impaired " usually is someone who fits in more with the hearing world and sees the hearing loss as a deficit medically, not a culture.
There is no right or wrong way a person should label herself. People 's perspectives and understanding of their hearing losses may change over their lives, due to changing hearing loss or due to the people they meet. It saddens me when one group tells the other group that they are wrong. My hope is that people in both the 'deaf' and the "Deaf" community can come together and be open for all people to flow in and out of each group.
So, now what?
My last blog was about the big decision of whether or not you should buy or not buy a hearing aid. Now, you have made the decision that it is time for you to buy one. Now what? Where do you go?What do you buy?
There are many types of hearing aids made from many different hearing aid companies. You can buy a Behind The Ear (BTE) hearing aid, In The Ear (ITE) hearing aid, Cross hearing aid, In the Canal hearing aid....the list seems endless.
First and most importantly, you need to find an audiologist that you are most comfortable with. It is important that you find a pediatric audiologist if you have children or a good audiologist for adults if you are an adult. Next, you need to understand your type of hearing loss. You might have a sensorineural hearing loss ,which is in the inner ear, or a conductive hearing loss, which is a middle ear hearing loss. Different type of hearing loss require different hearing aids.
Please respect the professional and follow her suggestion. It may be hard for you to accept your hearing loss and you might not be quite ready for hearing aids,but you are making an investment. it is important that you choose wisely. Why buy something that won't last or won't be helpful?
My personal and professional opinion is that In the Ear hearing aids might be ne invisible,but they are not very successful for many kinds of hearing aids. Think wisely before you purchase those. Today, you can have so much fun accessorizing your hearing aids! Hailey's Cherished Charms are great charms purchased for your hearing aids to jazz them up.
I would love you to share your pictures of your hearing aids and how you decided on the type,color and size.
Allison Schley is a teacher of deaf and hard of hearing children. She took her passion for kids with hearing loss and became an author. She wants all children with hearing loss to know they are amazing and that hearing loss will not keep them from following their dreams.