I've recently realised that some people seem to have a somewhat illogical fear of the word deaf. To them deaf means, well, totally deaf. Can't hear a jumbo jet close up kind of thing. They can't seem to accept that "deaf or Deaf" can span a multitude of hearing ranges - or non-hearing ranges in this case.
I'm sick of the various political arguments everytime it comes to filling in a form. The latest one is my university disability disclosure form which had to be sent off with "hearing impaired" written in black capitals.
I nearly cried... Hearing Impaired? Ouch! It makes it sound like I have an... impairment?!
I personally think "hearing impaired" is an interesting term; I'm not 100% sure what it even means. It implies that being "hard of hearing" – The world’s other favourite term - some how prevents you from taking part in something, or achieving something. I certainly don't view myself as "impaired" in any way because of my deafness. I prefer to see it as empowered!
All this "hard of hearing" and "hearing impaired" rather than simple "deaf" stuff is giving me a bit of an identity crisis if the truth be told! It makes it even more difficult for me to know which side of the line I stand.
On the one hand I'm a mainstreamer, with hearing parents, hearing siblings and some hearing friends. From 8am until 4pm I'm expected to mold myself into some semblence of a hearing being.
Yet when school ends (or has it? I never hear the bell...) freedom begins! There's deaf club, youth group, NDCS youth advisory board... The list of my activities within the Deaf community is rather long - and astonishing when compared to the only hearing activity I take part in. School.
I'm well aware of the old big D little d debate but in my mind deaf is D/deaf. Surely we can transcend all that? Surely anybody with a hearing loss who identifies with the Deaf community is plain and simple - D/deaf? Apparently not... A rather long argument/debate I fear which will doubtless leave me even more identity starved.
For my part I call myself deaf. Or partially deaf if I'm filling in a dreaded form... I use speech and sign depending on the cirumstances and although I have more deaf friends I have a number of good hearing friends too. Just like many deaf teens I go to a mainstream school with practically no other deafies, and I go home each night to a hearing family. I don't see my deafness as a loss but rather a gain. I love fencing and kayaking... And reading, definetely reading.
That's my identity and it's mine to keep; I'm done with being defined by stereotypical categories.
And anyway, "hard of hearing" makes me feel like an old person...