Deaf Identity When You're Not Deaf

Discussion in 'Our World, Our Culture' started by appleeater, Sep 6, 2016.

  1. appleeater

    appleeater Member

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    The stance of the National Deaf Children's Society where I live is that all children with hearing loss are referred to as deaf because it's a positive identity, rather than a negative one.

    By the time I became a teenager, I realised that I wasn't really allowed to be 'deaf' because I had a moderate hearing loss, rather than severe or profound and began to refer to myself as having 'hearing loss' which seemed only a step down from 'hearing impairment'. Eventually, I rather begrudgingly came around to calling myself 'hard of hearing'.

    Anyway, I was discussing deaf identity after Deaf Club when some of us went to the pub and a few of them agreed that I don't accept (my) deaf identity. Which I was a bit put out by, considering I was rather unwillingly forced out of it. They advised that I register myself as deaf with the county council, if eligible.

    They're also very curious about how much I can hear and the last few meet ups having been asking me all sorts of questions such as 'do you listen to the radio?', 'can you hear a phone?' and having my wife talk behind my back from various distances to see how far I can hear.

    I'm tempted to go back to referring to myself as deaf (or perhaps partially deaf) because I end up having to explain what 'hard of hearing' is anyway. But I don't want to steal other people's identity, as it were. Or make things more difficult when hearing people expect that deaf people can hear as well as I do.

    I'm pretty on top of Deaf culture here (though it does seem most people here are less extreme in their views - indeed there was even a video showing at the club about that) but my signing, owing to disuse, is 'good' rather than fluent.

    What are you thoughts?
     
  2. DeafDucky

    DeafDucky Well-Known Member

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    Some would say you are deaf owing to the fact that you do have some measurable loss AND use sign (good is fine- a lot of people are in that range). What matters is your own comfort in labeling yourself.

    Technically I could be called hard of hearing with my aids and the fact that my ability to 'distinguish sounds/speech' (whether or not they're quality is another story..) is good enough to fool hearing people lots of times (that part is frustrating). But..I call myself deaf because it's the most direct, shortest way to describe myself. I'm fairly certain I used that term long before I got to Gallaudet- though I was aware of Gallaudet and MSSD before that (I wanted to go to MSSD- parents said no). I've met a few people who are moderate range hearing loss and called themselves deaf (or Deaf)..and severe to profound who call themselves hard of hearing. Pretty sure I knew one guy whose loss was actually mild to moderate (he kind of cheated to get into Gally)- but i don't even remember how he referred to himself...HOH or what... :hmm:

    Short answer- use what you feel comfortable with. The D/deaf community is becoming more accepting and open minded....well in general, I'll not touch on the Deafblind part here.
     
  3. RoseRodent

    RoseRodent Member

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    The bit I find awkward is when you're "severe" because that doesn't work with "deaf" I don't think. People know that when you're saying"mild" you mean that you're a little deaf. But the adjective "severely" to describe something normally means it's worse than someone who is just that thing - severely ill, severely affected. So "severely deaf" makes it sound like you are more deaf than someone who is just "deaf". But I absolutely loathe the term "hard of hearing", firstly because it's a bit meaningless, if never describe myself as being hard of walking, I've never heard of hard of seeing. But mostly because when you use that term to most people they have thoughts of their gran who needed the phone a little loud and the TV turned up, they don't get it. When I told someone I was HOH once they were amazed that meant I actually wore hearing aids!

    So I try to match what others are thinking: at the Deaf club I'm hoh, other places I'm deaf. Because I've got missing frequencies rather than one flat average that I don't hear, I get worried people will call me out, point out that I heard something so I can't be this or that. I have the misfortune to be able to hear things like barking dogs but not speech, my husband snoring but not a police car with sirens on driving directly behind me! All the annoying noises are just fine.
     
  4. whatdidyousay!

    whatdidyousay! Well-Known Member

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    I call myself HOH , I been called this all my life , some people do call me deaf when I was a health aide and I didn't like that . I didn't want my clients to think I wouldn't be able to hear them.
     
  5. BecLak

    BecLak Active Member

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    As we all know, 'Severe' is an audiological term for a level of hearing loss. Audiological terms are generally frowned upon within Deaf Culture due to it being labels imposed by the Hearing. I know it all too well. Even though, when at age 11, my audiologist told my mother that my hearing loss was 'severe', as soon as it was discovered I could 'lip-read' (speech-read) well, I was immediately labelled as HOH. Their 'solution' was to 'fix it' with hearing aids and intensive speech therapy. I grew up indoctrinated under the labels of HOH and partially-deaf. Among hearing people, I for a long time I referred to myself as 'severely-deaf' because their concept of Deaf is 100% zilch, nada, nothing. As I have become more familiar with the Deaf Community since joining AD in 2009 and have since been to many Deaf events and began learning and using Sign Language more and more frequently and building up my fluency. I have embraced my identity as Deaf, because I know now, since I was born, Deaf culture actually had always been ingrained in me but I had unknowingly been deprived of my natural language. I finally can be myself now. Losing those audist labels has been slow and sometimes tedious, especially the 'Oral Success' one. I advocate for my right to Sign Language and I continue to fight for it (and not just for myself)
     
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2016
  6. Tousi

    Tousi Well-Known Member

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    I am not sure what good these attempts to pigeon-hole us are going to do.....
     
  7. whatdidyousay!

    whatdidyousay! Well-Known Member

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    I feel if people want to call their self HOH , deaf or Deaf or hearing impaired should be up the person . Calling everyone 'Deaf' is pigeon hole people too.
     
  8. moldyfig

    moldyfig New Member

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    The way I look at it is because I rely on non-hearing cues to understand the hearing world around me, I'm deaf. If I could hear and understand speech without lipreading or having to write it on paper, I'd call myself HoH. If hearing aids worked well enough and I could understand someone without looking at them, I'd be HoH. I do need to lipread or read notes or watch people's faces to comprehend their speech, so I call myself deaf.
     
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  9. whatdidyousay!

    whatdidyousay! Well-Known Member

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    I don't go through all that with my hearing lost , there are more importance things to be concerned about .
     
  10. zephren

    zephren Active Member

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    I think people should be able to identify whatever why they are comfortable with. I think it is fine to change how one identifies too.
     
  11. DeafDucky

    DeafDucky Well-Known Member

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    Why are you on a forum for deaf people if there are more important things to be concerned about?
     
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  12. Ericka

    Ericka New Member

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    I am currently questioning and trying to muddle my way through the question of identity now. I've know for a while my hearing wasn't "right"(lack of a better word atm) finally went to an ENT and Audi and i have loss in both ears but the right ear is still ( by a sliver) in the normal range and the left is mild almost mild to moderate, confirmed menieres and reverse slope hearing loss. Im waiting to get approval for my first hearing aid(experiencing mixed feelings). Now i know labels and identities are subjective and more or less based on the persons feeling about themselves. I had a woman (deaf)who i helped out by (piss poorly) interpreting for her annoyed and out of paper hearing friend. She asked me how i knew sign (been learning on and off since 6th grade when i had a deaf classmate) she asked me was i deaf or hoh i said no but i have h.l. she said "oh you hoh." Her having said it didn't feel hurtful or challenging it made me kinda relax about how i identified when im around or with D/deaf and hard of hearing people. However it's hard to take on that identity fully in regards to everyday life because i feel a bit like I don't have enough H.l. and that some how im taking away or being a fraud because i barely sign and i am not (i want to be) involved in deaf events and culture. Its all kinda where do i begin, do i really belong?
     
  13. Vorsia

    Vorsia Active Member

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    I have a progressive loss and blindness so I'm considered DeafBlind,the community DeafBlind we use tactile signing . Now I have to find deaf people who are comfortable with that style signing , it went from mild hearing loss to profound .. I had to go from calling myself HOH to calling myself Deaf now using sign language when I feel comfortable using it use it with Deaf and uses speech with hearing .. some sign with my kids just love who you are and those around you will respect you for who you are .
     
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  14. DeafNerdMommy

    DeafNerdMommy Well-Known Member

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    I also started at mild hearing loss and now I am at profound hearing loss
     
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  15. Hex

    Hex Member

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    Label's are over rated but if someone wants to identify in a way they feel comfortable than that entirely up to that person
     
  16. abrakadangit

    abrakadangit New Member

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    I feel this on a spiritual level. Trying to explain to someone why I can sometimes hear the phone ringing at work but if I'm not facing them I can't hear their voice is my day to day struggle. Most people are okay but I have had several customers roll their eyes at me which is great. :-S

    I was born hearing (probably) and developed Meningitis when I was about 9 months and it took a fair portion of my hearing but my family still raised me as a hearing person. It wasn't until I attended University that I started to really have trouble (larger classes and such) and found out I am hard of hearing with an auditory processing disorder. Seeing someone with a similar experience is really refreshing!
     
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  17. ricas27

    ricas27 Member

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    Mostly deafies think or guess I am hearing before they ask when they dont see me sign, without hearing aid or i do not look like deaf. And just like hearing don't think i'm deaf when they don't see me sign, or they might think I mostly ignore them when they talking to me without i see them talking to me. That's how they identified me and then they sometime confused, and sometime they surprised. Also they sometime doubt and need to me prove it. smh
     
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  18. DeafNerdMommy

    DeafNerdMommy Well-Known Member

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    Even with my AH people still don't know I am deaf.
     

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