National D/deaf Awareness Month is recognized in the US every September. During this month, people celebrate and advocate for the D/deaf community. Awareness specific to the issues, people, and culture of the D/deaf community is the primary focus.
The D/deaf and HoH (Hard of Hearing) Community
There’s a diversity by which people in the D/deaf community choose to identify themselves.
1. Something to think about is how a person becomes deaf or Hard of Hearing (HoH).
2. The range of hearing, age of onset, educational background, means of communication, and cultural identity may be part of their identity. There’s a personal level of how each person relates to one another and labels themselves. Some are content with the phrase “people with hearing loss.” Others born deaf or HoH don’t consider themselves as someone who “lost” their sense of hearing. Different terminology that is inclusive is acceptable include: “deaf,” “Deaf,” and “hard of hearing.”
“Deaf” vs. “deaf”
The National Association of the Deaf (NAD) differentiates “Deaf” and “deaf” as such: the uppercase Deaf refers to a particular group of deaf people who share a language - American Sign Language (ASL) and a culture. The lowercase deaf refers to the audiological condition. A person with mild-to-moderate hearing loss or someone who is deaf but doesn’t have or desire a cultural affiliation with the Deaf community may identify as HoH. Each person may identify through an audiological or cultural context based on their level of comfort, means of communication, and acceptance. However they choose to identify themselves, they should all feel welcome within the community and in society.
Sign Language is Unique across the Globe
The World Federation of the Deaf found that there are over 200 languages signed around the world. Sign language is not a universal language. Just as with spoken languages, variations of sign language have developed within countries and communities. There are even differences in sign languages among countries with the same or similar spoken language. For example, English sign language includes American Sign Language (ASL), Australian Sign Language (Auslan), and British Sign Language (BSL). Spanish Sign Language (LSE or SSL) differs in the Americas and Europe. SSL is signed in every part of Spain, except in Catalonia - the people there use Catalan Sign Language (CSL) - and in Valencia, where they use Valencian Sign Language (VSL). In Mexico, Mexican Sign Language (MSL) is practiced.
Ways to Support the D/deaf and HoH Communities
If you or a loved one are experiencing hearing loss and believe hearing aids might be an appropriate solution, contact one of our hearing instrument specialists for a hearing test and consultation.