This label is technically inaccurate, since deaf and hard of hearing people generally have functioning vocal chords.
The challenge lies with the fact that to successfully modulate your voice, you generally need to be able to hear your own voice.
Communication is not reserved for hearing people alone, and using one’s voice is not the only way to communicate. Deaf and hard of hearing people have encountered plenty of people who subscribe to the philosophy that if you cannot use your voice well, you don’t have much else “upstairs,” and have nothing going for you.
Obviously, this is incorrect, ill-informed, and false.
Overwhelmingly, deaf and hard of hearing people prefer to be called “deaf” or “hard of hearing.” Nearly all organizations of the deaf use the term “deaf and hard of hearing,” and the NAD is no exception.
Yet there are many people who persist in using terms other than “deaf” and “hard of hearing.” The alternative terms are often seen in print, heard on radio and television, and picked up in casual conversations all over.
Question — What is the difference between a person who is “deaf,” “Deaf,” or “hard of hearing”? There are variations in how a person becomes deaf or hard of hearing, level of hearing, age of onset, educational background, communication methods, and cultural identity.
Padden and Humphries comment, “this knowledge of Deaf people is not simply a camaraderie with others who have a similar physical condition, but is, like many other cultures in the traditional sense of the term, historically created and actively transmitted across generations.” The authors also add that Deaf people “have found ways to define and express themselves through their rituals, tales, performances, and everyday social encounters.
Again, because deaf and hard of hearing people use various methods of communication other than or in addition to using their voices, they are not truly mute.
True communication occurs when one’s message is understood by others, and they can respond in kind.
One, deaf and hard of hearing people are by no means “silent” at all.
They use sign language, lip-reading, vocalizations, and so on to communicate.
It’s all about choices, comfort level, mode of communication, and acceptance.