Can You Come Up with Another Label for Hard of Hearing? – By Michelle Rooney

Hard of Hearing.
Moderate to severe hearing loss.
Hearing impaired. 
They’re all the same.
They all describe me. 
They all simply mean that my ears don’t function as intended.

This doesn’t mean that I can’t think. 
This doesn’t mean that I’m stupid.
This doesn’t mean that I should not, or cannot lead a normal productive life.

It also doesn’t give people the right to be blatantly rude towards me.
Nor does it mean that people have the right to tell me, “Never mind”, 
when I fail to understand them because THEY failed to look at me when 
they were talking to me. 

I refuse to believe that it is only my fault when I misunderstand someone talking.
I refuse to allow people to ignore me as if I’m not even present… and get away with it.
I refuse to lip read while the person is talking with food in their mouth. 
I refuse to answer to or talk with someone who chooses not to look at
me when they’re talking.  

Things need to change. 
There is no reason why I need to put up with the ignorance
 and just sheer stupidity of hearing people who think 
that they’re better then I just because they can hear. 
That is just wrong. 

I don’t know how, but I need to find a way to make things better for myself. 
I need to gain my confidence back. 
Take back my quality of life. 

I am hearing impaired or hard of hearing,
but I prefer a new term I heard recently, 
“Hard of Understanding”. 
That is much more accurate. 
I struggle to understand so much more then I struggle to hear. 
But hearing people struggle to hear and listen.

I don’t have anything against hearing people. 
I’m married to one, and all my children are hearing. 
I just have something against disrespect, ignorance, and 

So, if you see me on the street, just smile. 
If you want to say “Hello”, make sure you have my attention. 
Make sure that I can see your face in order to read your lips. 
Speak clearly and don’t yell or over pronounce your words. 
And, have patience with me. 
If you do these things, you’ll probably gain a loyal friend.


Michelle Rooney is a longtime Christian, has been married almost 15 years, and is the homeschooling mamma of three children. She also happens to be hard of hearing. “If you ever come to visit and can’t find me anywhere,” Michelle says,” try searching my bedroom closet. For there are times when I am overwhelmed and need a break from hearing and homeschooling.” She’ll likely be holding a bag of Hershey’s finest chocolates, repeating to herself, “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus.” She blogs At The Speed of Life.


3 thoughts on “Can You Come Up with Another Label for Hard of Hearing? – By Michelle Rooney

  1. I got into an unintended controversy on crime dime about something similar. People assume the Deaf/HoH are defective in some way and need to be “fixed.” A gal commented that the problem was ASL. Nope, the problem is being Deaf or Hard of Hearing. Teaching people Signed Exact English isn’t the cure because most people don’t sign. Teaching people who are Deaf to speak is a losing proposition as they are bullied and ridiculed for having a “deaf accent.” Making prelingually deaf bilingual in English and ASL sounds good, but the reality is that Deaf adults who are prelingually Deaf and go to Deaf Schools have a low rate of English literacy. Getting a CI is not possible for everyone – physically or financially.

    Whether we are Deaf, Hard of Hearing, or Hearing Impaired it amounts to the same thing. I’d shy away from Understanding Impaired since it connotes more than hearing. I can understand just fine if I am getting the information being conveyed to me.

    I have a roommate who has an accent I often can’t understand. She says “draw” for “drawer” and thought drawer was spelled “draw” – she has a master’s in education, but not in English spelling or grammar. ☺ She says “square-ell” for squirrel. Even if I hear the word it makes no sense in context unless I stop to think it through in a mental translation. There are numerous other variations on language and I sometimes refer to her speech as the “Gailish” language. She also has vocal cord problems that make her unable to project and very hoarse all the time. She does not sign. However, she does not “never mind” me and we work on communication. She is endlessly patient regarding my hearing, which I appreciate, just as I am endlessly patient with her issues. Thank God we’re friends!

    I am so up front about my hearing issues it is difficult for me to understand why others do not “get it” about my impairment. I have friends who have known me for a decade who can’t remember I’m hearing impaired. I had to struggle for any accommodations in law school because the ADA officer refused to accept that I could not hear well despite an audiogram, a letter from an audiologist, a letter from a doctor, and seeing my hearing aid. It seems that the hearing world is in major denial.

    I am not “fixable.” I am not a CI candidate. My hearing will get worse, not better. I need people to look at me when they speak to me. Everyone knows up front about my hearing. I give people permission to tap my shoulder to get my attention. I need sound and the ability to read lips – or I need terps or CART.

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