Hearing Impairment and the Deaf MovementBy and large, the deaf culturerejects terms related to hearingimpairment i.e. "hearing impaired,"although it can be argued that thephrase adequately describes thecondition. Terms such as deaf and"hard of hearing" are preferredsince these words do not insinuatethat people unable to hear arehandicapped or "less than" in some manner.This critical difference in nomenclature is but one of thesignificant outcomes of the social movement known as deafculture. One of the movements core principles is that deafness isa unique human experience rather than a form of disability. Thisnotion changes the perception of how deaf people viewthemselves and how others perceive them.Deaf culture also influences art, literary traditions, history andmany shared value systems. By definition, the culture includesindividuals who are not hard of hearing, such as sign languageinterpreters, family members, educators and even healthcareprofessionals in the auditory field. It is also recognized in article30 of the United Nations Convention on Rights of Persons withDisabilities (even though they prefer not to be thought of asdisabled) with the following passage:"Persons with disabilities shall be entitled on an equal basis withothers, to recognition and support of their specific cultural andlinguistic identity, including sign languages and deaf culture."
There are two distinct types of hearing impairment, or deafness:conductive hearing loss and sensorineural hearing loss. Theformer is a result of physical damage or improper operation of thepathways that carry sound from the outer ear to the eardrum andthrough the middle ear. This is all sensitive human equipmentand there are plenty of places for things to go wrong.Sensorineural hearing loss tends to be related to the inner ear,the cochlea in particular, which is responsible for the conversionof conduction, or physical vibrations, into neural signals, whichare electrical in nature. Some deaf people have mixed hearingloss, a combination of conductive and sensorineural.Deaf culture doesnt discriminate on the type of hearing loss or itsseverity, which ranges from mild (26 dB of hearing loss) toprofound (91 dB of hearing loss). Rather, deaf people areincredibly inclusive and value the power, camaraderie andsupport of the group. The ability to sign is a unifying force for theculture and is celebrated in a number of ways. American SignLanguage performers such as Clayton Valli, Benjamin Bahan, EllaMae Lentz and C.J. Jones continue to grow in popularity servingas both a form of entertainment and sign language refinement forthose with hearing impairment.REFERENCES:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hearing_impairmenthttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deaf_culture
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