End use of offensive ‘deaf and dumb’ terminology

March 8, 2020 0 By Martin Quinn

Dear Sir/Madam,

I have a sibling who is hard of hearing and he is not happy. He is not happy at the use of the term ‘deaf and dumb’ by sections of the media, on social media and in casual conversations.
As his brother I may be biased but I think that most people will agree with me that in modern society it is very unacceptable that sections of the media would continue to use such an outdated and offensive term as ‘deaf and dumb’.
My brother was cross and very offended (and rightly so) that the term was used once again recently in a news report on a burglary in Waterford. Following complaints to the media outlet in question the term was changed to ‘hearing-impaired’.
You may ask as to the reason for the importance in using the correct language for those who are hearing impaired?
The word ‘dumb’, if you look it up in the dictionary, means stupid. Deaf and hard of hearing people are neither dumb or stupid. They have an opinion and they have a voice. They are not ‘silent’. They use sign language, lip-reading, vocalisations, and so on to communicate. They have families, friends, communities, and lives that are just as fulfilling as anyone else. They may be different, but they are not less.
Deaf and hard of hearing people have the right to choose what they wish to be called, either as a group or on an individual basis, and overwhelmingly they prefer to be called ‘deaf’ or ‘hard of hearing’. To my knowledge all organisations of the deaf community also prefer to use this term.
Words and labels can have a profound effect on people so show your respect for the deaf and hard of hearing by refusing to use terms that just shouldn’t be used any more. This is the 21st century and time to leave this type of outdated term in the past where it firmly belongs.

Yours etc,
Martin Quinn