September is Deaf Awareness Month

The purpose of Deaf Awareness Month is to increase public awareness of deaf culture.

Medically, hearing loss is defined by the results of a hearing test. There are parameters set out to classify someone as either deaf or hard of hearing. A complete hearing test examines how loud sounds across the frequency range have to be in order for you to detect them. It also gauges how well you can understand speech. 

If you are unable to detect sounds quieter than 90dB HL (decibels Hearing Level), it is considered a profound hearing loss for those frequencies. If the average of the frequencies at 500Hz, 1000Hz, and 2000Hz is 90dB or higher, the person is considered deaf. 

A person who is hard of hearing can have a range of hearing loss from mild to severe. It should be noted that amplification technology is available for people with mild to profound hearing loss. 

The cultural definition is much different than the medical definition. According to the cultural definition, being deaf or hard of hearing has nothing to do with how much you can hear. Instead, it has to do with how you identify yourself.1 Do you relate more closely to hearing people or deaf people? Many medically hard of hearing people consider themselves culturally deaf.

Sometimes, this difference between cultural deafness and those with profound hearing loss can be indicated in the way the word “deaf” is written. For example, if you see “Deaf” with a capital D, it typically indicates deaf culture. On the other hand “deaf” spelled with a lowercase “d” indicates hearing loss and the person may not necessarily consider themselves part of deaf culture.

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