September is Deaf Awareness Month! Learning and being aware of Deafness, hearing loss, Deaf culture, and Deaf identity can be extremely helpful.
You never know when you might run into someone who is Deaf so we wanted to share 10 things to be aware of for Deaf Awareness Month.
10 Things to Know about Deaf and Hard of Hearing People
1) If someone doesn’t respond to you, they most likely can’t hear you
It can be easy to think someone is being rude or ignoring you when you say something and they don’t respond. However more likely than not, they are deaf or simply didn’t hear you.
2) Every deaf person has their own preferred methods of communication and language
Everyone has their own preferred language and preferred communication. Some deaf individuals may choose to speak, sign, both, or neither of the two. Some may choose written communication or other method of communication that works best for them.
3) Some deaf individuals may not identify as “Deaf”
There is a wide spectrum of Deaf Culture and Deaf Identity. Just because one’s hearing loss is classified as “Profoundly Deaf” doesn’t mean that they identify as a full member of the Deaf community and vice versa. Some may prefer the term “Hard of Hearing”, others may identify as deaf (not fully Deaf but not hearing).
Read more: Celebrating the diversity of deafness
4) Social situations and various environments may be different for deaf individuals
Social situations can be sometimes challenging for those who are deaf. Trying to keep up, communicate, and follow along with conversations can pose a variety of challenges especially in certain contexts.
5) No two deaf people are alike
Whether two people have the same level of deafness or hearing loss, that doesn’t mean that their methods of communication, preferences, ways of doing things etc. are the same. Everyone is different. What might work for one deaf person may not work for another.
6) Deaf does NOT mean “dumb”
Although the term “Deaf and Dumb” is not as prominent as it used to be, some may continue to carry that impression/stigma. However, this couldn’t be farthest from the truth. Many deaf individuals go on to lead successful and fulfilling lives in a wide variety of professions.
7) Deaf people don’t often consider deafness as a disability
While deafness is considered an invisible disability, it does not mean that Deafness makes us disabled. It simply means we can’t hear or have different ways of hearing and communicating etc.
8) Using hearing assistive technology is a personal choice
A lot of Deaf individuals hear the question “Why don’t you get a cochlear implant or hearing aid?” Not everyone chooses to use hearing assistive technology for a variety of reasons and everyone has their own preference and way of life and communicating.
9) Deafness is often invisible
Similar to what I mentioned above, deaf individuals may often hear the phrase “well you don’t seem Deaf”. Many deaf individuals learn various ways of adapting to communication, environments, etc. that work for them so it may not always be so apparent that someone is deaf.
10) You don’t need to feel sorry for our deafness
Often when we tell someone we’re deaf or hard of hearing we’ll hear something along the lines of “Oh, I’m so sorry”. While most probably mean well, there’s truly nothing to be sorry for. Most of us are happy being deaf because it’s who we are and we have our own ways of navigating life and communication.
These are just 10 of the main things to be aware of in regard to deafness, deaf culture, deaf identity, etc. However, this is definitely not all. As mentioned, there are so many aspects, ways of life, communication methods, languages, preferences, cultures, identities and so much more making up the deaf community. You may be thinking about what you can do, how you can help spread awareness, and/or communicate with the members of the deaf community.