throw the hearing person off the train – Dr Dongs MD – Jan 12

this is a thread for and about Deaf culture and people

required reading


Deaf: (Please note the capital “D”.)

  • This is a reference to members of the Deaf community and Deaf culture.
  • They are proud to be Deaf and feel that Deafness is a vital part of their identity, cherished as much as ethnicity, gender, and religious background.
  • People in this cultural group most likely attended residential schools for the deaf, use American Sign Language (ASL), and view Deafness as a difference rather than a disability.
  • Deaf people often feel a cultural bond with one another based on sharing a common language and experience of oppression.
  • Although they most likely recognize ASL as their primary/native language, they may or may not use speech to communicate.

deaf: (Please note that the “d” is lowercase.)

  • This is a general term which encompasses many groups of people, most of whom do not identify themselves as being part of the cultural Deaf community.
  • People who are “deaf” are usually oral deaf people who use speech and residual hearing to communicate instead of sign language.
  • This definition varies in different regions, but it usually is connected to people with a severe or profound hearing loss who choose to associate mainly with hearing people.

hard of hearing:

  • This is usually a term for people with a mild, moderate, or severe hearing loss.
  • Hard of hearing people often use speech as their primary mode of communication, but may be involved in the Deaf community.
  • This group of people usually can transition back and forth between the Deaf and hearing cultures.
  • Hard of hearing people often form advocacy groups of their own, due to their special communication needs which are overlooked due to misconceptions about hearing loss.

hearing impaired:

  • This term is considered highly offensive. Just as “deaf-mute” and “deaf and dumb” are inappropriate labels, “hearing impaired” is an outdated way to collectively label people with any level of hearing loss. It does not account for cultural identity.
  • Elderly people with a hearing loss developed late in life often refer to themselves as being hearing impaired. This is an appropriate exception, but is often over-generalized by the majority of the American public.
  • The use of “hearing impaired” may be considered less blunt by many hearing people, but within the Deaf community, it is an insulting term and a sign of ignorance.


  • This is a label for people who have no hearing loss.
  • “Hearing culture” is the mainstream American culture which is primarily focused on auditory experiences rather than visual experiences.



Audism (from Latin audire, to hear, and -ism, a system of practice, behavior, belief, or attitude) has been variously defined as:

  • The notion that one is superior based on one’s ability to hear or behave in the manner of one who hears. (Tom Humphrey 1977, quoted in Zak 1996)
  • An attitude based on pathological thinking which results in a negative stigma toward anyone who does not hear; like racism or sexism, audism judges, labels, and limits individuals on the basis of whether a person hears and speaks. (Humphrey and Alcorn 1995: 85)
  • The belief that life without hearing is futile and miserable, that hearing loss is a tragedy and “the scourge of mankind,” and that deaf people should struggle to be as much like hearing people as possible. Audists, hearing or deaf, shun Deaf culture and the use of sign language, and have what Reed and Teuber describe as “an obsession with the use of residual hearing, speech, and lipreading by deaf people.” (Pelka 1997: 33)
  • The corporate institution for dealing with deaf people–dealing with them by making statements about them, authorizing views of them, describing them, teaching about them, governing where they go to school and, in some cases, where they live; in short, audism is the hearing way of dominating, restructuring, and exercising authority over the deaf community. It includes such professional people as administrators of schools for deaf children and of training programs for deaf adults, interpreters, and some audiologists, speech therapists, otologists, psychologists, psychiatrists, librarians, researchers, social workers, and hearing aid specialists. (Lane 1992: 43)
Audism is a term used to describe discrimination or stereotypes against deaf or hard of hearing people, for example by assuming that the cultural ways of hearing people are preferable or superior to those of deaf or signing culture, or that deaf people are somehow less capable than hearing people.
Audists can either be hearing or deaf. Audism occurs when a deaf person is judged as incapable of a given behavior, occupation, etc. simply because he or she cannot hear. Audism is often coupled with a “hearing” superiority: an attitude of thinking one person is superior to another person because he or she can hear better than him or her. Audism takes another form concerning interactions between the deaf: deaf people who will not use sign language and who will not identify with the Deaf community may consider themselves to be “better” than others who use sign language and are part of Deaf culture.
Resources – learn some sign language fucker – a good intro to Deaf culture

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