Letters to the Editor

Right to choose

June 11, 2008


To the editor:

While Marilyn Roy (Public Forum, June 7) was correct in chastising the Journal-World on its use of "deaf-mute," she was mistaken when claiming that "hearing and speech impaired" is the appropriate way to refer to the deaf and hard of hearing.

As the National Association of the Deaf explains on its Web site, "Deaf and hard of hearing people have the right to choose what they wish to be called, either as a group or on an individual basis. Overwhelmingly, deaf and hard of hearing people prefer to be called "deaf" or "hard of hearing."

"Hearing-impaired (is) a term much preferred by hearing people, largely because they view it as politically correct - (it) is a well-meaning word that is much-resented by deaf and hard of hearing people - (who) feel that the words 'deaf' and 'hard of hearing' are not negative in any way at all. Indeed, the deaf and hard of hearing community views 'hearing-impaired' as negative, because the label focuses on what they can't do."

While certainly not all deaf or hard of hearing people consider themselves part of the Deaf (with a capital D) community, many of those who do honestly feel they don't have a disability or impairment, simply a different language and culture. That's a positive attitude we would do well to respect, rather than referring to them as "impaired" and thinking we're being respectful.

As the deaf sister of one of my best friends used to put it: "Sign it out loud. I'm deaf and I'm proud!"

Kendall Simmons,


purplesage 9 years, 7 months ago

Political correctness makes everyone "touchy, touchy" about things like this. I'm glad to see not everyone is. I concur: great letter.

canyon_wren 9 years, 7 months ago

Great letter and a good response to the earlier "complaint"!

RedwoodCoast 9 years, 7 months ago

I once had a linguistics professor who worked quite a bit with sign language. She referred to her study group as the Deaf community.I once ran into an interesting PC term for what we usually call handicapped or impaired: alter-abled. I wonder how they would feel about that.

Charles L. Bloss, Jr. 9 years, 7 months ago

My hearing is slowly going south, and I could care less what they call it. Thank you, Lynn

Kookamooka 9 years, 7 months ago

I took a class at KU where it was deemed appropriate to refer to the person first and their disability second. So..."a person who is deaf" was preferable, in their estimation, to a "deaf person". Whew!

Kookamooka 9 years, 7 months ago

By the way...I have to acknowledge all of the time that I am caucasian and I've never seen the caucus mountain range, and am not really sure where it is! So there.

deafsingle2008 9 years, 7 months ago

"Sign it out loud. I'm deaf and I'm proud!, yes, most deaf people are not negative. I am also hard of hearing. We enjoy our lifes better than some normal people. We cherish everything we own. I registered on a deaf dating site, mydeafmatch.com recently, I met many friends, some deaf, some hard of hearing, even some hearing people. They are all kind.the truth, I prefer to be called hard of hearing.

denak 9 years, 7 months ago

My mother, father and son are blind. None of them care one way or the other if you say they are blind or visually impaired. It doesn't change the fact that they can't see as clearly as other people.However, personaly, I like person first terminology. I don't think it is political correctness, I just think it is puts the emphasis on the person and not their "disability."So, saying a "person who is hearing impaired" or a "person who is visually impaired" puts the emphasis on the person's humanity as opposed to defining them by their disability (ie a deaf person or a blind person).Dena

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