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Overwhelmingly, deaf and hard of hearing people prefer to be called “deaf” or “hard of hearing.” Nearly all organizations of the deaf use the term “deaf and hard of hearing,” and the NAD is no exception.Yet there are many people who persist in using terms other than “deaf” and “hard of hearing.” The alternative terms are often seen in print, heard on radio and television, and picked up in casual conversations all over.Let’s take a look at the three most-used alternative terms.Deaf and Dumb — A relic from the medieval English era, this is the granddaddy of all negative labels pinned on deaf and hard of hearing people.For example, some people identify themselves as “late-deafened,” indicating that they became deaf later in life.Other people identify themselves as “deaf-blind,” which usually indicates that they are deaf or hard of hearing and also have some degree of vision loss.Over the years, the most commonly accepted terms have come to be “deaf,” “Deaf,” and “hard of hearing.” “Deaf” and “deaf” According to Carol Padden and Tom Humphries, in We use the lowercase deaf when referring to the audiological condition of not hearing, and the uppercase Deaf when referring to a particular group of deaf people who share a language – American Sign Language (ASL) – and a culture.The members of this group have inherited their sign language, use it as a primary means of communication among themselves, and hold a set of beliefs about themselves and their connection to the larger society.

The challenge lies with the fact that to successfully modulate your voice, you generally need to be able to hear your own voice.We distinguish them from, for example, those who find themselves losing their hearing because of illness, trauma or age; although these people share the condition of not hearing, they do not have access to the knowledge, beliefs, and practices that make up the culture of Deaf people.Padden and Humphries comment, “this knowledge of Deaf people is not simply a camaraderie with others who have a similar physical condition, but is, like many other cultures in the traditional sense of the term, historically created and actively transmitted across generations.” The authors also add that Deaf people “have found ways to define and express themselves through their rituals, tales, performances, and everyday social encounters.(Source: , by Jack Gannon, 1980) In later years, “dumb” came to mean “silent.” This definition still persists, because that is how people see deaf people.The term is offensive to deaf and hard of hearing people for a number of reasons.

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