Sunday, January 9, 2011

Hearing Loss

It seemed a bit funny to me today watching my kids at a birthday party.  I have heard this phrase mentioned in regards to my son, "He suffers from a hearing loss".

That never really felt right. He doesn't suffer and he never "lost"his hearing. How can you lose something you never had. He has however, lost his hearing aides once or twice as a wee kiddo. Deaf people come in all shapes and sizes. Every deaf kid is effected by the level of their hearing. Every deaf kid hears (or not) in different ways. My kid doesn't hear at all so he navigates the world in a way that is suited to being non hearing.

I was standing in line at this party across the room from my son and saw him fluently signing with someone. There was a natural conversation happening. Turns out this man has a deaf mother. She "lost" her hearing at age 16. That is a hearing loss in my opinion. She had it and it went away.

I just was thinking about how we use language.

loss |lôs; läs|
the fact or process of losing something or someone 

suffer |ˈsəfər|
verb [ trans. ]
 experience or be subjected to (something bad or unpleasant)

The party was a blast. We had a friend tuning 4. My son made friends with a 12 year old boy. They used their phones to communicate as they played. They are now facebook friends. The boy attempted to initiate this by by using a made up sign.... my kid understood. He doesn't suffer but he did drink too much soda.


  1. I don't think hearing people who are outside the Deaf circle understand the negative conotation of their word choice. They operate egocentricly, and view people with different ability, as lacking; just because they have the sense of hearing, then deaf people must have suffered or endure the loss of theirs.

    The term that bothers me the most is "hearing impaired". I work at a school where they call teachers of the Deaf, the Hearing Impaired teachers, for the first year I suffered with this term imposed on our Deaf and hard of hearing students, it bugged me so much that I requested they change the terminology to "teacher of the Deaf" to my surprise, and delight the title changed almost immediately. So I figured, hearing people don't know any better, so its up to us to clue them in!


  2. My daughter happens to have a progressive loss, so her's was a "hearing loss".

    But, when she was younger and was attending her bi-bi school, she had a moderate to severe loss. We filled out a bunch of paperwork for her IEP, and under "qualification" I wrote "Deaf". The rep from the school for the Deaf actually crossed it out and wrote "hard of hearing"....seriously? Her unusable residual hearing means so much to you that you feel the need to defend it and change the wording? She was Deaf. She attended a voice-off bi-bi school. Her only language was ASL. She had ZERO speech understanding with her hearing is that "hard of hearing"???

  3. 'Hearing loss' could also attribute to someone who lacks hearing. Loss of what could have been---to have typical hearing. This is according to many people (including me) who use the term 'hearing loss' to describe people who are deaf or hard of hearing.

    I suppose that instead of saying a baby who was born with a hearing loss, one could say,'The baby did not have typical hearing at birth' 'The baby was born deaf' or 'The baby was born hard of hearing'.

  4. Miss Kat's parents that is crazy!

    Hey, I have a Mormon friend who is thinking of moving to get better services. Can you contact me please?


  5. (e good point. It is just so strange for us to think about what could have been. It is funny to us. It just doesn't matter. Does that make sense?

  6. From observations of schoolmates, "loss" is truly meaningless to children, even when they were old enough to remember hearing. By the teens acceptance is complete and I never heard friends complain about "going deaf". The only friend who cried about it lost her hearing in her early twenties and had been planning to become a singer. For her, the word "loss" is fitting and understood by both Hearing and Deaf people.

    This interested me because children in grade school could logically consider hearing a vital part of their lives, so it was surprising that they soon didn't miss it as one would expect.

    They would tell me about remembering songs, what it sounded like to use noisemakers and what teachers sounded like when mad, without conveying a sense of loss. We would talk about it, me asking what sound is given by tapping a wood surface, or a metal one or a pane of glass, and they would tell me imaginatively, "like wood." or "like glass." A boy jokingly told me it was "thud!" or "crack!"

    It's the greater adaptability of children. It's reasonable to call people "deaf" when they have been deaf since childhood, and to avoid the using the word "loss" as it doesn't have the same meaning that it does to most hearing adults.

    Use the word "threshold" instead: as in I have a hearing threshold averaging 95 dB when most people have 0 to 20 dB. Or just call me profoundly deaf.

  7. I avoid using deficit language (hearing impaired, hearing loss, etc.) because all those terminologies create an image of deaf people as "less than". Deaf, hard-of-hearing, and deaf-blind have worked for centuries. Being deaf is part of my body, familial (9th generation deaf) and cultural identity. I do not accept others defining me as "less than" themselves.

  8. How come I don't see your blog on blog roll? This is good stuffs for parents to read

  9. Miss Kat's Mom

    next time write down Deaf Gain - that will really mess 'em up ; )

    dont matter when the person becomes Deaf - seeing it as a gain or a loss should be up to the individual more than they systems that classify and quantify

    thanks for this entry