The Language of Disability: What’s In a Name?

In Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet, Juliet famously asks, “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” She wonders how the name someone has can define them, rather than the characteristics of the person himself. This seems logical enough, a name is just shorthand for describing an actual object or state of being, but when it comes to disability, a name can take on significant meaning.

I recently attended a panel discussion hosted by the Museum, Arts and Culture Access Consortium (MAC), a group whose mission is to promote access and inclusion at cultural institutions in the NY metro area. I have been to a handful of their workshops and always learn something. This session focused on language and disability, and the importance of getting the words right in order to reduce stigma and promote conversation about disability. A very complex issue.

I share my take-aways from the meeting below. Please share your thoughts in the comments.

Living With Hearing Loss | A Hearing Loss Blog

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Do You Need Your Hearing Aids to Drive?

This article I wrote for Hearing Tracker is about driving with hearing loss. What do you think? Do you need your hearing aids to drive? 

In several states, we will need to upgrade our driver’s licenses to a federal Real ID by October 2020. Since my license was up for renewal, I decided to get a jumpstart on this and made an appointment at my local DMV. I was dreading the visit — hours of boredom standing in lines, the worry that I would not hear my name when it was called, and of course the photo — but I did not expect any thought-provoking questions. Filling out the forms in advance, one of the questions got me thinking. It asked, “Do you need a hearing aid to drive a motor vehicle?”

There was also a question about corrective lenses/glasses, but that was easy. While I can make it to the bathroom and back in the middle of the night without putting on my glasses, I would never attempt to run an errand to the store, let alone get behind the wheel of a car without them. I certainly need my lenses/glasses to drive.

But what about the hearing aid question. Did I need my hearing aids to drive? They certainly are helpful to hear honks, sirens, and cars passing and I do always wear them when I drive, but I don’t think they are required. Most of the driving cues are visual — things like brake lights, turn signals, and traffic signs. With the radio blasting, I doubt people with typical hearing gather many clues from the sounds around them while driving either. My hearing aids are a nice to have, not a must have when behind the wheel. I confidently checked “No,” but promised myself to wear them anyway. They certainly couldn’t hurt.

Living With Hearing Loss | A Hearing Loss Blog

To read more about safe driving with hearing loss, click here to continue reading on Hearing Tracker.

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Two Recent Movies Demonstrate the Power of Our Differences

I am a big fan of post-apocalyptic stories, things like The Hunger Games, The Maze Runner, and Seveneves. These wild adventures get both my adrenaline pumping and my imagination flowing. So when two new movies in this genre hit the scene recently, I was eager to watch them. Both were entertaining and scary, as I expected, but they also made me think about the importance and power of our individual differences, even our disabilities, to the future of us all.

If you are a fan of the genre, check them out and see if you agree.

Living With Hearing Loss | A Hearing Loss Blog

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Experience Deafness: An Invitation To Silence

Have you ever wondered what it was like to be truly deaf? Or wanted a way for your family to understand the experience of deafness, if only for a short time. I had the chance to confront these questions recently at an interesting exhibit entitled “Invitation to Silence” running at The Israeli Children’s Museum.

More than an exhibit, it was an interactive experience led by a deaf guide that served to help visitors get a better understanding of what it would be like to communicate as a deaf person. While some sign language was introduced, communication was primarily achieved through facial expressions and body language rather than formal signing. It was a fun experience and provided much food for thought about living with deafness. 

Living With Hearing Loss | A Hearing Loss Blog

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