How I Self Identify As A deaf Individual

Updated: May 15, 2020

The concept of self identity was yet another thing I hadn't realized was something to have an opinion on until I was in high school. It seems that there are many things regarding my deafness that I hadn't noticed until high school - listening fatigue, ear off time, deaf identity. In fact, I don't remember noticing how others addressed or labeled my hearing loss. The labels and terminology never stuck out to me. But as I started learning the differences and what each term really means, I noticed that I had a specific preference in self identification. Because Deaf and deaf, hard of hearing and hearing impaired are all different terms I've noticed people identifying themselves with. Each persons preference in identification is theirs to make for themselves; it's a personal preference. And there is no blanket answer or definition behind each terminology. That being said, this is how I personally identify and how I see each term.

Not Deaf...

I don't see myself as Deaf, with the culture that the uppercase D carries with it, it's not one that I live in or identify with. That's not to say I don't relate to the Deaf Culture, because I do. I believe in ASL and I believe in finding a strong and close knit community of your own people. But there are also some Deaf Culture beliefs I don't believe in, and it's not a community I choose to live in.

Not hard of hearing...

I also don't see myself as hard of hearing; that term implies that I do have hearing. The way I personally see it is that to be hard of hearing you have some level of hearing and struggle to some extent with it. But lets be real - I'm profoundly deaf, put a band or plane next to me and I'll still be smiling at the book I'm reading. I'll look up if I feel something and acknowledge how neat that band or plane is, smile and read on. I just don't see myself as hard of hearing.

Not hearing impaired...

To me, this term is offensive. My hearing loss is not an impairment. There is nothing wrong with me or my hearing. I may be profoundly deaf, but I have a tremendous sense of deaf gain. I lost nothing from my hearing loss, instead I gained a whole new world, and a different perspective. I gained a community of friends and family and a whole new set of passions. Nothing, with that much personal and communal gain can be considered an impairment. My hearing loss is not an impairment and it doesn't affect me, if others see it as an impairment then perhaps it's affecting them, and it shouldn't!

I'm deaf...

I don't see myself as Deaf or hard of hearing, and I honestly don't consider hearing impaired to be in the vocabulary selection but I know there are others who may still choose to. I see the terminology of deaf as my Cinderella of self identifying vocabulary. It's the term that fits best for me. I am deaf; I have no hearing. I am deaf and wear a cochlear implant and a CROS, but even when I wear these hearing devices I am still deaf. Terminology does not change with ears on or ears off... deaf is still deaf.

Each persons preference in identification is theirs to make themselves; it's a personal preference. And their is no blanket answer or definition behind each terminology.

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