At a Loss


I’ve always used “I wear hearing aids” as the primary way to let people know about my hearing ability.

This is clunky and no one else really uses it (yet – viva la revolucion!) so I often go to my number two : “I have a hearing impairment.”

However, I know that there is a fairly large population who opposes this language as it brings too much attention to the “defectiveness” of the person in question. I don’t really agree with this, except when it veers away from person first language. (I have an impairment. I am not impaired.)

The thing I really don’t agree with though, is the use of “hearing loss” being applied to the entire population of those with atypical hearing abilities. I was born with the same hearing ability that I have now; I never lost anything. I also think that the hearing journey – and all of the associated anxieties, stresses, and learning moments – experienced by those born with hearing impairments are incredibly different than those experienced by individuals who lose their hearing later in life. To lump them all together under the same heading is inaccurate and diminishes the early life experiences of those with congenital hearing impairments.

The concerns of people who’ve lost hearing regarding their hearing aids not making things sound the same way they used to are valid and very widely addressed on blogs and books and by professionals. However the concerns of those with congenital impairments about “what should music sound like?” “how do other people hear?” “why do I have problems where others don’t?” are often neglected. This isn’t intentional, its just the product of the fact that the majority of individuals with hearing impairments lost their hearing later in life. However, neglecting the experiences of those with congenital hearing impairments is something we need to avoid. In my opinion, that begins with a more thoughtful selection of the words we use.




















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