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!"