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Your Deaf or Hard of Hearing Child

Many people perceive being Deaf or Hard of Hearing as a disability or a medical condition. As a parent of a Deaf/HH child, you will learn which terms are appropriate to use. Below are many terms you may encounter whether they be at an audiology appointment or with a neighbor. Many people who have varying hearing levels view themselves as members of a distinct cultural community with its own language, values, and social norms. There are no specific hearing levels or personal characteristics that determine how a person identifies themselves. For example, a person with profound hearing level and has the ability to engage in spoken conversation may identify themselves as hard of hearing, while another person with moderate hearing level identify as Deaf. How an individual chooses to identify is based on a variety of factors that include hearing level, communication preference, cultural orientation, and use of technology.

deaf (lowercase ”d”) – Generally, this refers to the audiological condition and includes all individuals of varying hearing levels. 
Deaf (uppercase ”D”) – Individuals who identify themselves as Deaf use ASL as their primary language and mode of communication and may have any hearing level from mild to profound. Deaf people share common language, values, social norms, traditions, and beliefs that characterize Deaf culture.
DeafBlind – a DeafBlind (DB) or deafblind (db) person has a combination of differing hearing and vision levels. There are varying levels of vision issues, such as reduced peripheral vision or close vision. Depending on their vision and hearing levels, many DB/db individuals use tactile ASL to communicate; others may use modified versions of sign language. 
Hard of Hearing – A Hard of Hearing HH/ hh  person typically has some residual hearing which may enable them to use spoken language for everyday communication. Many hard of hearing people use ASL to communicate, or other forms of sign language in addition to spoken language. 
hearing – Someone who has typical hearing levels
late-deafened – This indicates a change in hearing level that occurred after spoken language is fully developed (during childhood). 

Terms to AVOID

Hearing Impaired – this term implies the person is impaired or broken

Hearing Loss – this is also a clinical term that means something is lacking however many deaf people are born deaf and never “lost” anything Levels

deaf and dumb – this is an older offensive term that referred to people who were deaf and could not talk. We do not recommend this term to be used AT ALL.

Hearing levels can range from mild to profound. Residual hearing can be affected by the frequency of the hearing level.
Mild Hearing
A person with a mild hearing level may hear some speech sounds but soft sounds are hard to hear. Will have trouble hearing faint or distant speech and understanding speech in a noisy environment. Many children with undiagnosed mild hearing loss experience language delays and read at grade level equivalencies below those of their normal hearing peers.
Moderate Hearing Level
A person with a moderate hearing level may
understand only loud speech., may have difficulty in group discussions. Their own speech may have errors. Vocabulary limitations and deficiencies in language comprehension and usage are common.
Severe Hearing Level
A person with severe hearing level will hear no speech when a person is talking at a normal level and only some loud sounds. Will not be able to discriminate words without visual cues. If hearing loss is present during first year of life, understanding of spoken language and use of speech will not develop spontaneously. Own speech is mostly unintelligible.
Profound Hearing Level
A person with a profound hearing level will not hear any speech and only very loud sounds.  Will rely on vision rather than hearing as primary sensory channel for communication. Own speech is unintelligible.
(adapted from the Center for Disease Control & Sound Beginnings; A Kansas Resource Guide)
Acquired/Delayed Onset
A change from typical hearing at birth to a different hearing level sometime later in life, post lingually.
Asymmetrical
Hearing is different in each ear
Atresia
A condition in which the auditory ear canal is either underdeveloped, absent or closed. Microtia and atresia almost always affect hearing and generally require ongoing medical care from a pediatric ear-nose-throat (ENT) specialist as well as an audiologist.
Auditory Neuropathy Spectrum Disorder
Hearing issue that occurs when sound enters the ear normally, but because of damage to the inner ear or the hearing nerve, sound isn’t organized in a way that the brain can understand. 
Bilateral
Hearing available in both ears
Conductive Hearing
Different hearing levels caused by something, usually structural, that stops sounds from getting through the outer or middle ear. This type of hearing level can often be treated with medicine or surgery. This type of hearing issue is usually mild and temporary. 
Congenital 
The child is Deaf or hard of hearing at birth. 
Microtia
When a baby is born with an incompletely developed external ear and usually occurs with atresia. 
Mixed Hearing
Hearing that includes both a conductive and a sensorineural hearing issue.
Unilateral
Hearing available only in one ear
Post-lingual
Hearing levels changed after a person learned to talk 
Pre-lingual
Hearing levels changed before a person learned to talk 
Progressive
Hearing levels become more profound over time 
Sensorineural Hearing
A hearing issue that occurs when there is an issue in the way the inner ear or hearing nerve works. This can happen when the tiny hair cells in the cochlea are damaged or destroyed. Depending on the level, a child might: hear most sounds (although they would be muffled); hear in quiet but not in noise; hear only some sounds, or hear no sounds at all. Sensorineural hearing issues are almost always permanent.
Symmetrical
Hearing level is the same in both ears
Bone Anchored Hearing Systems
Unlike hearing aids, bone-anchored hearing systems are surgically implanted devices. They provide bone conduction of sound vibrations to the inner ear—this is in contrast to regular hearing aids, which amplify acoustic sounds that enter the ear canal. Those who benefit from bone-anchored hearing systems include those who have outer or middle ear malformations.

Cochlear Implants
A cochlear implant is a surgically implanted neuroprosthetic device to provide a person with moderate to profound sensorineural hearing levels a modified sense of sound. An implant bypasses the normal acoustic hearing process to replace it with electric signals which directly stimulate the auditory nerve.

FM Systems
A personal frequency modulation (FM) system uses radio waves to send speech and other signals to hearing aids and cochlear implants. FM is the same type of signal as your FM radio, only it’s tuned to a frequency band designated for personal use.
There are two basic components of a personal FM system: a transmitter microphone and a receiver. The receiver may be integrated into a pair of hearing aids or a set of headphones.

Hearing Aids
A hearing aid is an electronic device designed to improve residual hearing of Deaf/hard of hearing people by making sound more audible. A hearing aid can be analog or digital and is worn behind the ear. A hearing aid can help people hear more in both quiet and noisy situations.

Sound Field Systems
A sound field system is an amplification system that provides an even spread of sound around a room. This is beneficial for deaf students, as they can hear the teacher’s voice clearly from wherever they are seated, even if the teacher is facing away from them.

Telephone Amplifiers
These are small devices that plug into a phone to amplify sound.