Did you pass our pop quiz?

In the DID YOU KNOW post on November 19th, we posted a TRUE/FALSE question: “Deaf, hearing impaired, handicapped, disabled are interchangeable terms.” The answer is FALSE.

“Deaf,” “hearing impaired,” “handicapped,” and “disabled” are not interchangeable terms. They refer to different aspects of disability and can have distinct meanings and implications. 

Here’s an explanation of each term:

Deaf: “Deaf” typically refers to individuals who have a significant hearing loss to the extent that they may have little to no functional hearing. Some Deaf individuals may use sign language as their primary mode of communication, such as American Sign Language (ASL). Some Deaf individuals do NOT know or use sign language.  Some people read lips, others do not. Some use tools such as cochlear implants, others do not. It’s important to note that being Deaf is not seen as a disability within the Deaf community but rather as a cultural and linguistic identity.

Hearing Impaired: “Hearing impaired” is a term that describes individuals who have some degree of hearing loss. It is a more general and less specific term than “Deaf.” Hearing impairment can range from mild to profound, and people with hearing impairments may use various forms of communication, including hearing aids, or sign language, depending on their level of hearing loss and personal preferences.

Handicapped: The term “handicapped” is considered outdated and is generally not used in contemporary discussions about disability. It can be seen as stigmatizing and is no longer considered respectful or accurate. It’s better to use more respectful and precise language when referring to individuals with disabilities.

Disabled: “Disabled” is a broad term that encompasses a wide range of physical, sensory, cognitive, and mental health conditions that may affect an individual’s ability to perform certain tasks or participate fully in society. It is a neutral and inclusive term that acknowledges that people with disabilities have diverse experiences and abilities. Some individuals prefer person-first language (e.g., “person with a disability”) to emphasize their individuality, while others prefer identity-first language (e.g., “disabled person”) to emphasize their disability as an integral part of their identity.

So, which term will you use? 

In summary, while “deaf” and “hearing impaired” refer to specific aspects of hearing loss, “handicapped” is considered outdated and potentially offensive. “Disabled” is a broader and more inclusive term that encompasses a wide range of disabilities, but it’s essential to use language that respects individuals’ preferences and emphasizes their dignity and autonomy. When in doubt, ask the individual!

How do you feel about the word “Handicapped”? Do you find it offensive?

Do you prefer people-first or identity-first language?

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A red pencil sits on a paper with boxes to check for true and false. The true box is checked -- but are the answer to our pop quiz really true?

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