D/d classifications – Deaf is deaf.


A short while ago I was talking with a friend and as a result they posted a blog to vent their views and so did I within the comments section…. I posted the link to my facebook profile and it generated 400+ comments! I also received some private messages saying they had been told to use D/d or not to. No one has the right to dictate another what to do – educate them from all angles and then let them decide for themselves as whatever they decide will reflect their true character.

There have been and are occasionally “healthy debates” about using D/d to classify themselves and/or others. As a result, some people have chosen to refrain from using D/d and/or removed this term from their descriptions so they could not be accused of creating any divisions and also, because it is grammatically incorrect. Deaf applies at beginning of sentence whereas deaf applies after the start of a sentence.

Using D/d to include both groups is actually consciously dividing those two groups whereas using the word deaf to describe the deaf community on an united basis is much more diplomatic… Some argued that “Adjectives are used to denote identity (e.g. Black, British, Jewish etc.) often take a capital letter”. My response to that was “As for terms to denote identity such as Black, British, and Jewish etc. These are ethnic background identifications whereas being identified as deaf or hearing impaired is a medical issue, regardless of what ethnicity or origin a being is.”

There are those (i.e. huge D’s) who have massive chips on their shoulders but then again people with similar attitudes also exist in the hearing world. They will be best known for their bluntness. People tend to forget discrimination works both ways.

I have also seen on other hearing and deaf people’s articles/comments/blogs etc… That they keep using the word “Deaf” mid-sentence…. no one says ‘Hearing’ mid-sentence do they, so why do that? Someone also said to me people will say “I am Deaf” or “I am deaf” depending on how they identify themselves. I asked them, if they know of any hearing people stating “I am Hearing”??… Equality.

There are those who were born hearing yet lost that physical ability, identify themselves as being mentally hearing. A friend stating this arose the following questions:

“is there such a thing as being mentally hearing or deaf?”

“if a hearing child was born into a deaf family, would they be mentally hearing or deaf?”

It seems there is after all, a mentality for both. “Deaf brain processes touch differently: Lacking sound input, the primary auditory cortex ‘feels’ touch”

I tend to lean towards describing someone as a “BSL user” as it is even more diplomatic because it would also cover hearing people who can sign too. Yet perhaps that would be too broad a spectrum. The more deaf awareness is raised and when (not if – positivity rules!) BSL is legalised, every one will have no excuse not to compute. To whatever extent is up to them as everyone has different interpretations based on their own understanding, experiences and observations. Each to their own.

Some may say we are born into certain categories which again is divisive and segregates us. Those of us who believe in equality and inclusion – regardless, will disagree as we are born to be human beings, not subjects to be subjected to such triviality. We are who we are and my name is Sara Jae – pleased to meet you.

#D/d rant over :-)

~ SJ (Sara Jae)


6 thoughts on “D/d classifications – Deaf is deaf.

  1. The difference between Deaf and deaf is quite straightforward. It is not about the level of hearing loss but about the way you have been brought up. Hence the term Deaf culture. This was coined by Dr Paddy Ladd as part of his thesis and applies to the way that Deaf people live. For example Deaf people are 100% visual. At home they probably do not have a hi-fi or ipod and certainly not a telephone.
    There are lots of little differences between Deaf and deaf or hearing people that are the direct result of living in a culturally Deaf way. Deaf people don’t phone each other, they go and see each other, something that still applies today. It is really the result of living your life in a visually aware and soundless environment.
    The interesting thing is that wherever culturally Deaf people come from their behaviour is essentially the same. So you have that similarity of lifestyle all over the world, caused by being brought up in that environment.

    There are also a great number of people who have a severe hearing loss and don’t see themselves as Deaf at all. This is because they have been brought up in a hearing world. There are obvious drawbacks to this for the deaf person, radio and telephones are out for a start so the deaf person is not at all like a Deaf person and not a hearing person either!

    I would argue that such people are culturally deaf but not Deaf. In other words they still operate like a hearing person, with adaptations for their hearing loss but not like a 100% visually adapted Deaf person. The reaction of many people when they first encounter the Deaf world is how cosy and comfortable it feels. This is because of the clarity of communication, which thay have not been used to.

    That is what is is all about really. It isn’t really about BSL, more about not wanting to change a way of life and that is why so many people are resistant to anything that they see as a threat to it. It’s rather like being brainwashed, in a way because people who are brought up that way don’t see anything unusual about it and therefore don’t see a reason to be any different.

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