“Deaf” or “Hearing Impaired”?
I was very blessed this January for having travelled to different places in the country that I have never been in my entire life. And those places are not just places, but “the places” to be during this time of the year. Imagine going to Kalibo, Aklan to celebrate the “Ati Atihan” street festival and in Iloilo City for their “Dinagyang” festival. To top it off, we went to the world famous white-sand beach of “Boracay“! 🙂
All of these great trips weren’t possible if not for the invitation from Liliane Foundation Philippines. We had our first taste of the new system that they will be implementing for all of their partner-organizations. They had their opening salvo for the Visayas mediators and organizations that serve persons with disabilities.
During the group discussions, most of the members label their clients as visually impaired, orthopedically impaired or ortho, autistic, mentally impaired and hearing impaired. Probably that is what they were brought up to tag the children they assist. When one of the participants from West Visayas requested me to assist their “Hearing Impaired” constituents for their IT training, I can’t help but feel surprised that they still call them as such.
The same thing happened during the interview in one of the daytime TV programs here in Manila last Monday.* The first question asked by the host was, “How do we call you, deaf or hearing impaired?” Luckily, they invited prominent deaf people like Indie Film Actor Romalito Mallari and IT Expert Ervin Reyes. They both replied that they are more comfortable being called Deaf.
Now, how do we really call them, Deaf or Hearing Impaired?
Although each country has its own legislations and policies regarding persons with disabilities, we must consider getting the answer from an accepted international treaty, the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities (UN-CRPD). This law was ratified by the Philippines in 2008. Policies, future laws and bills that are filed must be anchored from the UN-CRPD which is fundamentally the rights based approached.
If you scan UN-CRPD, it never mentioned the word “Hearing Impaired”. It used sensory impairments in Article 1. Sign language and interpreter words appeared in Article 2, Article 9, Article 21 which seek to promote it. Article 30 also included the respect of deaf culture. Deaf, deaf community and deaf/blind was mentioned in Article 24 thrice.
Article 24 – Education explicitly states that:
b) Facilitating the learning of sign language and the promotion of the linguistic identity of the deaf community;
Based on these, I can safely say that the the word DEAF is the politically correct and rights based approach in calling them. Besides, “hearing impaired” focused on the impairment while “Deaf” focused on the person. 🙂
* – “Full Time Moms”, hosted by Suzie Abrera and Regine Tolentino aired at QTV-11