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American Sign Language: "Deaf-initions"

 

 


DEAF-INITIONS
By:  Lyn J. Wiley
 
 

TERMS THAT RELATE TO HEARING LOSS AND TO THOSE WHO HAVE A HEARING LOSS


Acknowledgements:
For their invaluable contributions to this list of definitions a special thank you to:  Dr. Bill Vicars, President of ASL University; Jolanta Lapiak, Handspeak; Dr. Lisalee D. Egbert, Coordinator for the Deaf Ministry, Department of Evangelization, Archdiocese of Baltimore; and Rosie Malezer.


 
NOTE:  The term hearing loss refers to varying deficits of hearing: mild, moderate, severe and profound.  Living with limited hearing means different things to different people.  Each person's experience is as unique as a fingerprint; there is no such thing as a typical d/Deaf person.

* * * * * 

 
Deaf (spelled with a capital D). 

 
Those with a significant hearing loss (who have various levels of residual hearing), who also

 
a)  use American Sign Language (ASL) as a cherished, primary language

 
b) are proud members of the Deaf community who respect and adhere to the beliefs, norms, values and expectations of that community

 
b) are entrenched in the Deaf culture and adhere to Deaf cultural norms, traditions, beliefs, values and ways of being

 
c) share ideas about their connection to and affiliation with the greater society, the populace nationwide and worldwide

 
d) have a strong, positive Deaf-identity meaning they a) value their personal existence (their Deafhood - see below),  b) value the Deaf Community, c) value the Deaf culture (past, present and future), and d) value ASL and all things related to the above a-d items.

 
* * * * * 

 
Deafhood

 
The experience of being Deaf.  Deafhood is sometimes referred to as the 'life journey' of a d/Deaf person.  Therefore, the experience of Deafhood varies wildly from person to person.  

 
Deafhood also refers to the collective experience (past, present and future) of members of the Deaf community.

 
The term affirms and underscores the ideas that being Deaf has great value for Deaf individuals, for the Deaf community and for society as a whole.  

 
* * Hearing people take note:  Those who embrace and celebrate their Deafhood see no reason for medical intervention or a medical 'fix' for their hearing loss.  They do not view their limited hearing as a 'problem' or as a 'medical concern' that needs attention.

 
The positive nature of Deafhood helps dispel the myth held by many hearing people that Deaf people have a 'medical problem' that needs to be 'medically monitored' 'improved-upon,' or 'cured.' 

 
On the contrary, the term 'Deafhood' underscores that the vast majority of Deaf people are content and pleased to be Deaf and proud to be members of their treasured Deaf Community and Deaf culture.

 
For more information on Deafhood, go to an online search engine and enter the keywords: Deafhood ASL University. Or::  Deafhood definition.  Or:  Deafhood Foundation.   Or:  Deafhood Handspeak.  Or:  Understanding Deaf Culture:  In Search of Deafhood (Paddy Ladd)

 
* * * * * 

 
deaf (spelled with a lower-case d)

 
The term deaf refers to an audiological hearing deficit, the physiologic condition of limited hearing.

 
The term has nothing to do with the Deaf culture, the Deaf community, Deafhood or anything related

 
The lower-case 'deaf' simply indicates that someone is unable to decipher speech on an everyday basis due to limited hearing.

 
Lower case deaf people operate in the hearing community, live in the hearing culture and consider themselves to have a 'medical condition' referred to as a hearing loss.  In other words, deaf people are 'medically deaf' but not affiliated with the Deaf community/culture.

 
* * * * * 

 
Congenital d/Deafness

 
Those with a loss of hearing present at birth due to genetic or other factors that affected the hearing apparatus of the fetus while in utero.

 
Pre-lingual d/Deafness (also referred to as:  early deafened)

 
Those of any age who a) were born with a hearing loss or who b) acquired a hearing loss prior to the acquisition of speech and language (meaning prior to one year of age, the age at which language development typically begins.  

 
Post-lingual d/Deafness (also referred to as:  late deafened)

 
Those of any age, who acquired a hearing loss after they acquired speech and language.  Also see below:  Late-deafened Adult (LDA)

 
Note:  Pre-lingual d/Deafness is far more common than post-lingual d/Deafness.

 
* * * * *

 
late deafened adult (lower case l and d).  Often referred to by the acronym LDA.

 
Those born with normal hearing who acquired,  post-lingually or after the onset of adolescence (13 or older) a significant hearing loss.  

 
Some LDAs ultimately learn ASL and affiliate with the Deaf community. The vast majority do not.

 
Prior to their hearing loss, LDAs learned/used English or some other auditory language, attended hearing schools, associated with hearing people and lived in the hearing culture and world.

 
Most LDAs are not involved with the Deaf community and have little or no understanding of the Deaf culture. 

 
LDAs typically go through a natural, understandable process of mourning the loss of their hearing after which they struggle, as needed, to adjust to living life as an LDA.

 
For more information go to an online search engine and enter the keywords:  Association of Late Deafened Adults (ALDA). And/or enter:  HOH LD News.

 
* * * * * 

 
d/Deaf

 
This inclusive term refers to all people who are Deaf and deaf regardless their primary language, culture, community affiliation, age-of-onset of hearing loss etc.

 
The term d/Deaf is also used to refer to those who are bi-lingual (skilled with English and ASL) and bi-cultural meaning they can operate effectively in both the Deaf and hearing cultures and communities.

 
* * * * * 

 
Profoundly d/Deaf

 
This medical term refers to those who cannot hear anything even when sound is amplified to the highest levels.  There are, therefore, 'profoundly Deaf' and 'profoundly deaf' individuals.

 
Profoundly Deaf people operate in the Deaf community and culture. 

 
Profoundly deaf people operate in the hearing community and hearing culture.  

 
And, some profoundly d/Deaf people move back and forth (with varying degrees of success) between the two cultures and communities.

 
The following definition of 'profoundly deaf' is used by some medical professionals:  A hearing loss so severe that one is unable to detect, in the better ear, any sound that is below 95 decibels.

 
Other definitions of 'profoundly deaf' are in use as well.  For more information go to an online search engine and enter the keywords:  profoundly deaf definitions.  

 
* * * * * 

 
Deaf/hh (spelled with a capital D and lower case hh)

 
Dr. Vicars, Jolanta and Dr. Lisalee:  I need help with a definition for Deaf/hh.  I have one but I am not confident it is correct so I will wait to hear your definitions - thank you! - Lyn 

 
* * * * *

 
deaf/hh (spelled with a lower-case d and lower case hh))

 
This term refers to deaf people who do not use ASL, have little or no affiliation with the Deaf community and little, if any, understanding of the Deaf culture.  These individuals operate primarily or exclusively in the hearing community and culture.

 
* * * * * 

 
Deaf-Blind (spelled with a capitalized D and B)

 
This term refers to people who have the dual deficits of both hearing and vision, of all types and degrees.  Limited hearing and vision may be present at birth or may be acquired later in life.  A number of different definitions of Deaf-Blind exist.  

 
For more information go to an online search engine and enter the keywords:  National Center on Deaf-Blindness (NCDB) Library.  Or, enter: Deaf-Blindness Center For Parent Information and Resources.  Or, enter:  Helen Keller National Center.

 
* * * * 

 
Children of Deaf Adults (CODA)

 
This term refers to hearing sons and daughters of any age, born to and raised by one or two Deaf adults.  CODAs, from birth, are members of the Deaf community, they learn ASL as a first language and are entrenched in the Deaf culture.

 
The vast majority of hearing CODA individuals operate effectively in both the Deaf and hearing communities.

 
For more information go to an online search engine and enter the keywrods:  Children of Deaf Adults (CODA)  Dr. Bill Vicars, ASL University.  Or enter:  CODA International.  Or enter:  Child of Deaf Adults Wikipedia.

 
* * * * * 

 
Children of deaf adults (COdA*)

 
Dr. Bill Vicars, President of ASL University, coined the term COdA in 2015.  

 
This term refers to deaf, hard of hearing and hearing children born to and raised by deaf (lower-case deaf) parents who do not use ASL and are not affiliated with the Deaf Community or Deaf culture. 

 

 
 Kids of Deaf Adults (KODA).

 
This term refers to Deaf and hearing kids (18 years of age and under) who currently reside with one or two Deaf parents or guardians.

 
By Dr. Bill Vicar's definition of COdA* we could also consider KOdA* (kids under the age of 18 who reside with one or two deaf lower-case deaf parents or guardians.

 
* * * * 

 
GODA (d/Deaf and hearing grandchildren of one or two Deaf grandparents)

 
By Dr. Bill Vicar's definition of COdA* we could also consider GOdA*  (d/Deaf and hearing grandchildren of one or two deaf grandparents)

 
* * * * * 

 
SODA (siblings and spouses of d/Deaf individuals)

 
This term refers to d/Deaf and hearing people who grew up with (or are growing up with) one or more d/Deaf siblings.  

 
SODA is also used to refer to spouses of d/Deaf individuals.

 
By Dr. Bill Vicar's definition of COdA* we could also consider the terms SOdA* (d/Deaf and hearing people who grew up with (or are growing up with) one or more deaf brothers/sisters.  Or, who are d/Deaf and hearing spouses of deaf individuals).

 
For more information go to an online search engine and enter the keywords:  SODA ASL University  Dr. Bill Vicars.  Or enter:  SODA siblings and spouses of Deaf adults.

 
* * * * *

 
Deaf of Deaf (DOD)

 
Deaf and hard of hearing children born to and raised by one or two Deaf adults.  From birth, DODs are members of the Deaf community, learn ASL as a first language and are entrenched in the Deaf culture.

 
For more information go to an online search engine and enter the keywords:  Deaf children of Deaf parents.  Note:  If you enter DOD only that will take you to Department of Defense sites. 

 
* * * * * 

 
HOH 

 
This all-inclusive term refers to all people who have a mild to profound hearing loss regardless their culture, primary language and regardless the cause or age-of-onset of their hearing loss.

 
There are several classifications of hard of hearing as folllows:

 
hard of hearing people who operate exclusively or primarily in the hearing community (d/hh)

 
hard of hearing people who operate primarily in the Deaf community (D/hh)

 
hard of hearing people who move back and forth between the hearing and Deaf communities (d/D/hh).

 
* * * * *

 
hearing 

 
This term refers to people who have normal hearing acuity.  Some are skilled with American sign language, the vast majority are not.  Some are affiliated with the Deaf community and knowledgable about the Deaf culture, the vast majority are not.  

 
The exceptions, mostly, would be those who are CODA, KODA and SODA and in some cases GODA. As hearing people, their long and close association with d/Deaf parents/guardians or siblings, from birth, allows them unique insight into the experience of being d/Deaf.  

 
In addition, some hearing and late deafened people spend years associating with the Deaf community, experiencing the Deaf culture and learning ASL, activities and skills which allow them entry into the wonderful world of the Deaf.

 
IMPORTANT NOTE:  Many people consider the following terms to be offensive. Therefore, to show respect, these terms should not be used.

 
deaf and dumb

 
deaf-mute

 
hearing impaired

 
For more information on these offensive terms go to an online search engine and enter the keywords:  National Association of the Deaf Community and Culture Frequently Asked Questions


 

Notes:
 

 




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