Hearing Levels

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.


Hearing Levels

Hearing Conditions


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). 


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.