Awakening OHL Community

Awakening Oral Hearing Loss community

July 2002 – Sick of folks lumping hard of hearing people together with Deaf people, implying that they face the same issues and problems? Here’s an eloquent statement of how misleading that perception is.

February 2005 – I think the movement by HOH folks to demand an identity separate from Deaf people is finally building. Here’s one of the situations that leads me to that conclusion!

February 2005 – Have you ever wondered why employment ads for organizations that serve the “deaf and hard of hearing” almost always require sign language skills, when 95% of the “deaf and hard of hearing DO NOT SIGN? We’ll be exploring this issue in several upcoming articles. Randy Collin’s article entitled “Hard of Hearing Need Not Apply” will start us off.

February 2005 – Here’s another article in our continuing series on the awakening oral hearing loss community. This one is about changes at NTID to accommodate students who prefer oral communication to signed communication.

March 2005 – Have you ever tried to get services at an agency that serves the “Deaf and hard of hearing”? How did that go? Here are some thoughts on the employment practices of agencies that claim to serve the “Deaf and hard of hearing.”

March 2005 – So just who are we talking about here? Who are the members of this awakening oral hearing loss community? Here’s Randy Collins with his very entertaining thoughts on the subject.

March 2005 – Another article in our continuing series on OHL Advocacy is the report on Grace Tiessen’s 2005 SHHH California converence presentation entitled “Grassroots Advocacy for Hard of Hearing People.”

March 2005  – OK, you’re convinced! Hard of hearing people are getting a raw deal when it comes to getting services to meet their needs. And you’re ready to take action. So what’s your next move? You may want to join the OHL Advocacy group!

March 2005 – Here’s another article by Randy Collins – lots of interesting comments, as usual – including why we need to start talking about the “hard of hearing and Deaf” rather than the “Deaf and hard of hearing”.

April 2005 – One of the most compelling demonstrations of the emerging oral hearing loss community is the embracing of cochlear implants by the Deaf culture foundational institutions – Schools for the Deaf!

April 2005 – Another compelling article from Randy Collins – What’s it about? All kinds of stuff!

June 2005 – Further demonstration of the Awakening OHL Community is the fact that we’ve made it to the mainstream news media in a big way!

July 2005 – Deaf And Hard Of Hearing – Part 1 of Many Parts Should we replace the term “hard of hearing (HOH)” with the term “Deaf lite”? They’re really the same disability, right? It’s just that “Deaf lite” folks aren’t quite as Deaf as Deaf folks, right? 

July 2005 – Just when you think you’ve seen it all, it turns out you’re not even close to right 😉 It’s bad enough when Deaf services are touted as being for the “DeafAndHardOfHearing”, but how about when they’re being touted as being just for the hard of hearing? Read more about it here. And you’ll also find a good model for a letter of complaint about misuse of the terms!

July 2005 – We got three responses to the previous article from people claiming that the Video Relay Service really is for hard of hearing people, because they use it to lipread. So we did a little research and came up with some very interesting information!

August 2005 – Remember that questionnaire we asked you to fill out? Thanks to all who did and for the very interesting replies you provided. Here are the questionnaire analysis and results.

September 2005 – You all know that interpreted theater performances are accessible to everyone with hearing loss, right? Here’s a great letter to the editor of a local paper commenting on a story that made exactly that claim.

September 2005 – Who defines OHL people? Who should define them? Here’s Randy Collins’ thoughts on this important issue.

September 2005 – It’s perfectly logical to require that all people who work in a DeafAndHardOfHearing agency know sign language, right?

October 2006 – Walgreens to Sell Phone for People with Hearing Loss

November 2006 – Another Misleading Sorenson Press Release

January 2007 – HLAA ED Admonishes CSD

March 2007 – TDI Corrects Misleading Press Release about Hard of Hearing Using Video Relay

June 2007 – Lise Hamlin’s Report on the June 2007 TDI Town Hall Meeting

July 2007 – Politics, Technology, and the Future of Deafness

July 2007 – Deaf Bilingual Coalition to Protest AG Bell’s Summer Conference

November 2008 – Researchers Discover HOH Students Underserved

Newsweek Cover Story on Hearing Loss

June 2005

We’ve recently published a series of articles on the “Awakening Oral Hearing Loss (OHL)” community. The premise of these articles is that, with the aging of the baby boomers and the assault on our hearing from our increasingly noisy world, hearing loss is gaining focus as an issue that needs to be addressed. As if to verify these perceptions the cover story of the current issue of Newsweek is on hearing loss!

The main article is a fairly comprehensive look at many aspects of hearing loss. It discusses the growing number of people affected (projected 78 million Americans by 2030), how noise contributes to hearing loss, some common and not-so-common treatments, and medical and scientific research that will hopefully yield better treatments. It also profiles three people who have been affected by hearing loss. (One is my wife, but that’s NOT why I think this is such an important article 😉

The online article is available at: The print version contains, in addition to the main article, sidebars on how hearing works, hearing aids, cochlear implants, the BAHA hearing aid, the acoustic brainstem implant, and ways to prevent noise induced hearing loss. It may still be on the newsstand, or drop by your local library.

Those of us who are passionate about advocating for people with hearing loss often lament the ignorance of the general public, the dearth of resources for the OHL community, and the unwillingness of people with hearing loss to really get involved. The causes and effects of these situations are deeply intertwined, and resolving any requires resolving all.

The decision by the major media to start telling the story will have profound implications over the next few years. It may seem like a small thing, but the publication of this article is just the final episode in a long drama that requires a bunch of influential people to achieve new understanding. By the time something like this appears in a major magazine, underlying change is well underway.

Hang on for the ride!

HLAA ED Admonishes CSD

By Terry Portis, Ed.d, Executive Director, HLAA

Editor: Kudos to Terry Portis! I’m thrilled to see him taking a stand on the claims by various organizations that they support hard of hearing people by providing sign language services. Here’s his comments regarding the recent CSD claims that VRS supports 28 million people. For more of his thoughts, please point your browser to Terry’s blog (

These comments are reprinted with Terry’s kind permission.


January 10th, 2007

Last month at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) meeting, a democratic commissioner and a republican commissioner both quoted President Ronald Reagan. Given that this is in vogue, I decided to pull a quote myself “There they go again.”

I received a press release a couple of weeks ago announcing that Communications Services for the Deaf (CSD) is going to spin off the video interpreting services into a for-profit company. CSD has helped a lot of people, and provided many services. Their press release, unfortunately, contained a huge mistake.

The CSD press release stated: “VRS offers the nation’s 28 million deaf and hard of hearing individuals the ability to communicate using sign language when making telephone calls.” As I have stated many times, the most generous estimates are that 500,000 people utilize sign language to communicate in our country.

Every time an organization states or implies that 28 million people use sign language, it has a negative impact for the more than 97% of people with hearing loss who do not use sign language. It hurts our advocacy efforts to increase services that really will help the majority of the in this country with hearing loss.

When I point out errors like the one in the CSD press release, I am inevitably called an audist, or someone will say that I am “anti-sign language.” All of this is done to draw attention away from the facts. Some organizations or agencies have responded in recent years by adding “and hard of hearing” to their names or mission statements. They did not change, or offer any new services, but made the change to keep the government money flowing in.

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