July 4, 2010

Am I Deaf? Hard of Hearing? Hearing? Eh? What? Huh?

I am always interested in identity issues especially in relation to deaf and hard of hearing people. I have students who claim they are hearing with their hearing aids or cochlear implants on, but feel as if or know that they are deaf without them. One of them would say, "Sometimes I am hearing, sometimes I am not." Labeling oneself is especially hard for someone who is hard of hearing, not severely-profoundly deaf, but mildly-moderately deaf. They are in between being hearing and deaf. I know that I am always stressing over what to call myself and others who have deafness. Deafness and hearing abilities of each individual varies. It is not so simple for some people to give themselves one label to describe his or her hearing loss.

For example, with my hearing aid on, I will still have some trouble hearing certain things such as high pitch sounds (microwave beeping, birds whistling, etc.) and speech in everyday situations. Without my hearing aid, I am pretty much deaf to these sounds, but I can hear everything else pretty well with my good ear.

I cannot hear anything with my left ear. It feels vibrations, but that's it. So, I never have talked on the phone using my left ear.

I am deaf in noisy areas. I am especially deaf in noisy areas when I am not wearing my hearing aid. I am deaf to everyday conversations with strangers if I cannot see their faces or if I do not know the topic of what they choose to talk about with me.

I am hearing in a completely quiet place engaging in a one-on-one conversation with someone, with or without my hearing aid (depending on how the person speaks or if I have good visibility of the person's face).

Like I said in my earlier post, I like to give a detail description of my hearing loss if time allows. If not, I simply say that I am hard of hearing or that I don't hear too well.

I don't know what to call myself sometimes. And that is OK.

I am who I am. We are who we are. It depends on the situation.


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  1. hmmm... i don't think i have ever had the chance to describe my hearing situation in detail. No one has that much time, nor patience!!! Some situations, it's just easier to be deaf, rather than hearing.

    Very nice blog!!!

  2. 6 billion people on this planet with 6 billion ID's, and the hearing loss sector now wants sub-id's as well lol..... If an identity crisis wasn't around as an issue deaf would invent it... Possibly because deaf are ego obsessed and frightened they will disappear without trace so have to invent this incredible and complicated ID structure so people know they are still there or something. If we ever leave planet earth to discover the cosmos, god knows what pecking orders deaf will come up with lol I fear for the aliens really... we are determined to carry our baggage wherever we go.

  3. Since I don't know sign language, I have no solid clear way to communicate. I feel as though I put the sounds from the hearing aid and the lip reading (or captions if watching tv) together in order to understand someone. So when I'm meeting people, I just simply say "I read lips and I need to see your face in order to understand you because I'm deaf." Officially, I have a TINY bit of hearing but just saying "I'm deaf" is easier and works for me!

  4. Your blog is a amazing one...... u just speak wht I actually think.... Thank you soo much for sharing your thoughts..... I am now feeling much better...I now believe there are people who are in the same situation as I m and thinking the same as I do.... I m perfectly normal:)

  5. I am so happy to have come across your blog! I believe that more students than we realize have trouble hearing in class which is why I am using sound support this year in my sixth grade math classes. I originally started using it because the air conditioning unit in our room is so loud, but now that the weather is cooler, I am continuing using it to make sure everyone can hear.

    Another benefit I have found is that my tone of voice can be much more relaxed. Since I don't have to "raise my voice" to be heard, I believe the stress level in my classroom is lower.

    I have written about it on my own blog, too, and believe we need to raise teachers' awareness of this issue. You do a good job especially since you can bring your personal experience to the subject.

    Thank you, and keep up the good work!

  6. This is something I've really struggled with as an adult with either auditory processing disorder or auditory dyslexia (we're still working on getting a diagnosis; its quite an irritating process) but is very strong in the Deaf Culture. I am fluent in Sign Language and will use it over English unless I have no other choice. I wear hearing aids to try and help me understand the speech around me better but they only do so much. However, as someone who is HoH in my rain, not my ears, I've struggled with what to consider myself. Am I Deaf, HoH or hearing? I think of myself as Deaf (not deaf) and my deaf friends have told me that I'm even more Deaf than they are! But my family sees me as a hearing girl who has trouble with her ears. To me, my hearing has brought me nothing but frustration, culturally, socially and mentally.
    Since I started having trouble, I've developed strong noise anxiety. Most days, I wish that the rest of my hearing would just go away so I wouldn't have to be afraid and confused. I've struggled with what to call myself for years now and it only leads to confusion and resentment.

    I speak like a hearing girl because I am late-deafened(?) but if I can't see your lips chances are I'm not going to have a clue what your saying.

    I'm fluent in Sign Language and hate having to speak over using sign.

    Sounds just stress me out and frighten me and my noise tolerance level is unusually low for someone who was raised hearing (They noted this on my last audiogram).

    Some tones I really struggle with but understanding speech is a BIG problem for me. When it comes to speech, I really struggle. I can hear it but my brain won't make sense of what I hear. It's like putting your words in a blender in the middle of a conversation and whatever gets spit back out at me is what I get.

    I confuse sounds very easily like b,p,d,t and s,z,sh. It can make for some interesting and often humiliating misunderstandings. I'm far more comfortable using ASL than speaking now but I still don't know what to call myself.

    Am I hearing but having trouble with my ears, am I Deaf or am I Hard of Hearing? So confusing.


Keep it civil.