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SJHH / Patients & Visitors/ Accessibility/ Standards & Training/ Hearing Disability

Hearing Disability

Individuals Who Are Deaf, Oral Deaf, Deafened or Hard of Hearing

  • People who are profoundly deaf may identify themselves as culturally Deaf or oral deaf. In Deaf culture, indicated by a capital “D,” the term is used to describe a person who has severe to profound hearing loss, with little or no hearing.
  • Oral deaf is a term describing a person who was born deaf or became deaf before learning to speak, but is taught to speak and may not typically use Sign Language.
  • The term “deafened” describes a person who has lost their hearing slowly or suddenly in adulthood. The person may use speech with visual cues such as captioning or computerized note-taking, speechreading or sign language.
  • The term “hard of hearing” describes a person who uses their residual hearing (hearing that remains) and speech to communicate. The person may supplement communication by speechreading, hearing aids, sign language and/or communication devices.

Types of assistance an individual might use:

  • Hearing aid
  • Paper and pen
  • Personal amplification device (e.g., Pocket Talker)
  • Phone amplifier
  • Relay Service
  • Teletypewriter (TTY)
  • Hearing ear dog
  • Support person such as a sign language interpreter.

Guidelines for interacting with who are Deaf, oral deaf, deafened or hard of hearing:

  • Attract the individual’s attention before speaking. Generally, the best way is by a gentle touch on the shoulder or with a gentle wave of your hand.
  • Ask how you can help. Don’t shout.
  • Move to a well-lit area, if available, where an individual can see your face.
  • Don’t put your hands in front of your face when speaking. Some people read lips.
  • If necessary, ask if another method of communicating would be easier, for example, using a pen and paper.
  • Be patient if you are using a pen and paper to communicate. American Sign Language may be an individual’s first language. It has its own grammatical rules and sentence structure.
  • Look at and speak directly to an individual. Address an individual, not the interpreter or support person.
  • Be clear and precise when giving directions, and repeat or rephrase if necessary. Confirm that an individual understands you.
  • If the person uses a hearing aid, reduce background noise or move to a quieter area, if possible, so the person can hear or concentrate better.
  • Don’t assume that the individual knows sign language or reads lips.