Deafness/Hard of Hearing

Deaf vs. deaf (and some signing resources)

I’m about to post my first review about a book dealing with deafness or hard of hearing issues, but there are sure to be many more.  Personally I am not deaf (yet) but several family members have gone through severe hearing loss in middle age, so it’s a possibility I’ve been aware of since I was a child.

As an adult I chose to study American Sign Language for a year and still use it occasionally at one of my jobs.  Through my classes (and briefly wanting to be an interpreter) I learned a lot about Deaf culture and made several Deaf friends.  My signing is still very basic but I try to learn a new sign with every conversation.  Right now I am not really a part of Deaf life in my area – most of my friends are also able to verbalize and lip read some, so we communicate in a mixture of speaking, signing, and text messages when all else fails!

wonderstruck-fingerspell-book-cropped
Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick, learn to fingerspell your name or other words at http://www.scholastic.com/wonderstruck/signs.html

What many people are not aware of: having hearing loss and being Deaf are two different things, similar to how someone can be culturally and ethnically Jewish, but may or may not practice Judaism (the religion).  Being Deaf is not about loss but rather about embracing a rich and unique culture.  There are different levels of deafness and different amounts and sounds that each deaf person can hear.  There are different techniques for managing in the hearing world including hearing aids, cochlear implants, lipreading, and written communication.  And there is a different culture in the Deaf world.

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