It’s amazing to me how much I learn every day about hearing loss and the people who have it. For my social media, I am scouring the internet for interesting informative articles and inspirational stories and quotes. Through this, I have learned such a vast amount of information. Lately, I have read about the difference between Deaf, deaf, and hard of hearing. When Deaf is used with the uppercase D, it describes people who identify as culturally Deaf and actively engaged in the Deaf community. These people usually prefer to use sign language and it may be their first language. Deaf people have often attended schools or programs for the Deaf community also. When deaf is used with lower case d, it refers to the physical condition of having hearing loss. People who identify as deaf usually don’t have a strong connection with the Deaf community and don’t always use sign language. For instance, they may have been born to hearing parents and grown up in the hearing world with little or no exposure to the Deaf community. Hard-of-hearing describes mild to moderate hearing loss. A person who is hard-of-hearing often doesn’t use sign language as their preferred language, this would be like Kena. I understand that “hearing impaired” is sometimes used to determine a person with hearing loss but many people find it offensive. This is because of the implication it holds of being ‘impaired’. Ultimately, each person has their own preferred term for how they identify themselves and it’s always easy to ask if you’re unsure.
When my granddaughter was young and I was working on my book, I contacted a friend that became my mentor on how to write a book and what to expect. Basically, she gave me the tools to figure out what kind of marketing I’d need to get this off the ground and helped me gather a webmaster amongst other things. One thing that I’ll never forget is that she introduced me to people as a “children’s book author with a deaf granddaughter.” That was the first time anyone had ever called Kena deaf and I have to say it kind of offended me. I felt like she was not deaf, she was hard-of-hearing although I’ve read more articles of those who believe she is deaf, just a lower degree of it. After all, you wouldn’t call a child with glasses blind, right? This is the part where I learn how to stop labelling people. Is Kena hard of hearing? Yes, but does that have to be her label? No. She is so much more than her disability. (I know even saying the word disability can be a trigger for some. I apologize for that.) Her abilities are different than some other children, that’s the truth. But we could say that about any child, some are great skaters while others have a gift to sing or do math. She will find her gifts along the way but until then, she is Kena first. Her “deafness” will always be at the bottom of the list of traits that make her, her. Unless you have a child that has day to day challenges, I don’t think you really understand what these parents go through. They have more doctor appointments to go to, more things that cause concern to check into, more teachers at school they deal with, and most often more places they can be teased. All I ever wanted to do with my Super Kena book was to show Kena and others just like her, that there can be a book where a girl wears hearing aids just like her! My goal for all the other typical kids reading it was to show empathy to all of those “differently-abled” kids. They’re just like you. They have good times and bad times but you can guarantee that every day for them involves a lot more work, mentally or physically, than what others go through. Everyone is struggling with something so that’s where the kindness comes in. If every child and adult would just show kindness to others, regardless of age, ability, color, sex, etc., our world will be a better place and those challenged kids will appreciate the empathy, you can guarantee that by the smiles you will see.
Blessings of peace and love,