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DeafandHoH Terminology

A | B | C | D | F | G | H | I | L | M | N | O | P | R | S | T | U | V | Abbreviation List


acquired deafness: hearing loss that occurs any time in a person’s life after birth. Contrasts with congenital hearing loss.

American Sign Language (ASL): the predominant sign language used by culturally Deaf Americans.

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA): a public law passed in 1990 that prohibits discrimination based on one’s disability--including hearing loss--in employment, education, transportation, public accommodation, government and telecommunications.

audi/audie: Slang

audiogram: graph that shows how much a person can hear in a certain range of frequencies, usually between 250 and 8,000 Hz.

audiologist: healthcare professional who specializes in diagnosing and treating ear and balance disorders.

audism: discrimination based on hearing status, typically against those with hearing loss.

Auditory-Verbal Therapy (AVT): a training methodology that emphasizes the use of hearing through assistive listening devices and residual hearing in order to improve a deaf child’s speech and listening skills. Because of its focus on hearing and speaking, AVT typically eschews other methods of communication, such as sign language. Also sometimes called Auditory-Verbal Training.

Autoimmune Inner Ear Disease: a condition that occurs when the body’s immune system attacks the inner ear, resulting in hearing loss or balance problems.

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bilateral: cochlear implants or hearing aids in both ears; e.g., bilateral hearing aids.

bilingual-bicultural (BIBI): an educational and cultural approach to raising deaf children by teaching them sign language as their first language; written or spoken language is taught as a secondary language once the deaf child has established a strong first-language base. Typically, the deaf child will be exposed to Deaf culture in school and the family’s native culture at home.

BANZSL (British, Australian, and New Zealand Sign Language): the language family that encompasses British Sign Language (BSL), Auslan, and New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL). These three languages share the same grammar and manual alphabet, as well as a number of signs. For this reason, they are sometimes considered dialects of a single language, BANZSL.

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Captioned Telephone (CapTel): a specialized telephone with a monitor connected to a relay service that displays what the other person says as both parties voice and hear each other.

closed captioning (CC): subtitle-like text on television. Also called closed captioned.

cerumen: a waxy substance produced by glands in the ear canal to protect the ear from infection. Colloquially called ear wax.

ceruminosis: excessive ear wax build-up, which can cause
conductive hearing loss.

Child of Deaf Adults (CODA): hearing children of deaf parents. CODAs often identify with both Deaf and Hearing cultures.

cochlea: a spiral-shaped cavity in the bony labyrinth that is the auditory portion of the inner ear.

cochlear implant: an electronic hearing device that is surgically inserted into the inner ear (cochlea); the outer piece consists of a headpiece and a processor.

Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART): the system used by closed captioners and others to convert speech to text. The CART provider types into a stenotype machine using machine shorthand, and the computer software translates it into realtime captions. Also sometimes called open captioning, realtime stenography, or realtime captioning.

communication access: accommodations that enable deaf, hard-of-hearing, deaf-blind, or speech-impaired people to participate directly in programs, services, and activities.

conductive hearing loss: occurs when sound is not conducted efficiently through the outer ear, tympanic membrane (eardrum), or the ossicles of the middle ear; usually reduces sound level or the ability to hear faint sounds.

congenital hearing loss: hearing loss that appears at birth. Contrasts with acquired hearing.

contact sign: a mixture of English, either signed or spoken, and sign language, depending on the user’s proficiency in and comfort with either language; also sometimes called Pidgin Signed English.

Cued Speech: a communication mode based on handshapes and movement to phonetically represent sound; not to be confused with Visual Phonics. Also see transliterator.

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deaf (lower case d): used to refer to the audiological state of being deaf and sometimes used to refer to individuals who do not identify with the Deaf community or culture.

Deaf (upper case D): sometimes used to refer to the Deaf community and culture or to individuals who are members of the Deaf community and consider themselves to be culturally Deaf. One can be Deaf without being deaf.

Deaf President Now (DPN): a student protest that took place at Gallaudet University beginning on March 6, 1988 when the Board of Trustees announced the appointment of a hearing person as the University’s seventh president. Students shut down the campus and presented the Board with four demands, including the appointment of a Deaf person as president and the reconstitution of the Board with a 51% majority of Deaf members. The protest concluded on March 13 with the appointment of the University’s first Deaf president, I. King Jordan.

deafie: Slang deaf person.

deafness: complete or nearly complete hearing loss in one or both ears.

decibel (dB): unit of measurement used to measure the intensity or loudness of sound. Hearing loss is measured in decibels.

De’VIA (Deaf View Image Art): an art genre that seeks to express the Deaf experience. One of its most notable founders was American artist Chuck Baird.

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fingerspelling: the representation of individual letters and numbers using standardized finger positions; the manual alphabet in sign language. Fingerspelling is primarily used for names, places, and objects without a sign.

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Gallaudet University: the world’s first school for the advanced education of the Deaf and hard of hearing; located in Washington, D.C. Founded in 1864.

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hands-on signing: a method of tactile signing in which the receiver’s hands are placed lightly upon the back of the hands of the signer to read the signs through touch and movement; used by some Deaf-blind people. Also sometimes called hand-over-hand.

hard of hearing: used when discussing an individual who has partial hearing loss in one or both ears.

hearie: Slang hearing person.

hearing (lower-case h): used to refer to the audiological state of hearing and sometimes used to refer to individuals when the focus is on their ability to hear.

Hearing (upper-case H): sometimes used to refer to the Hearing community and culture or to individuals who are part of the Hearing community and consider themselves to be culturally Hearing.

hearing aid: a small device that amplifies sound and sends it into the ear canal.

hearing dog: an assistance dog specially trained to assist people who are deaf or hard of hearing.

hearing impaired: a term created by the Hearing community in an attempt to be politically correct. Most Deaf people prefer the terms
Deaf or hard of hearing.

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International Sign (IS): a sign language sometimes used at international meetings to communicate more effectively; heavily influenced by ASL and European sign languages.

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late-deafened: an individual who lost his or her hearing as an adult; most are raised in the Hearing community and do not use ASL. Also sometimes called latened deaf.

lip-reading: the practice of understanding speech by interpreting a person’s lip, face, and tongue movements. Also called speech-reading.

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manualism: an educational philosophy that emphasizes the use of sign language.

Manually Coded English (MCE): a generic term encompassing all manual systems designed to represent English. See Signed English, Cued Speech, Simultaneous Communication, Total Communication, Rochester Method

Ménière’s disease: a disorder of the membranous labyrinth of the inner ear that causes recurrent attacks of dizziness, tinnitus, and hearing loss. Also called Ménière’s syndrome.

mixed hearing loss: when conductive hearing loss occurs in combination with sensorineural hearing loss, meaning damage in the outer or middle ear as well as in the inner ear (cochlea) or auditory nerve.

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National Association of the Deaf (NAD): civil rights organization of, by and for deaf and hard of hearing individuals in the United States. Established in 1880, NAD represents the U.S. to the World Federation of the Deaf (WFD).

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oral deaf: a deaf person who lives in the hearing world by lip-reading and learning how to speak; oral deaf people typically do not learn ASL or participate in the Deaf community.

oralism: an educational philosophy that emphasizes the use of spoken language and lip-reading.

otolaryngologist: a physician who specializes in disorders of the head and neck. Also called an ENT (ear, nose, and throat).

otologist: an otolaryngologist who specializes in the ear and its diseases.

ototoxic: causing damage to the ear via a toxin; typically as a side effect of medication.

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Pidgin Signed English: a mixture of English, either signed or spoken, and a sign language based in a predominantly English-speaking country (e.g., British Sign Language, Australian Sign Language, etc.) Also see contact sign.

postlingually deaf: one who became deaf after acquiring speech. Also see late-deafened

prelingually deaf: one who became deaf before acquiring speech

presbycusis: refers to hearing loss that is the result of aging.

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relay center: center that facilitates communication between a deaf person using TTY and a hearing person on the phone through the operator.

residual hearing: the hearing that a person has left following a hearing loss.

Rochester Method: a type of Manually Coded English created in 1878 in which both parties fingerspell everything. Used until about the 1940s, it has since fallen out of favor. It is still used in some cases.

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sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL): occurs when there is damage to the inner ear (cochlea) or to the nerve pathways from the inner ear to the brain; the most common type of permanent hearing loss.

Sibling of a Deaf Adult (SODA): a hearing person who grew up with a deaf sibling. SODA is also used for Spouse of a Deaf Adult.

Signed English: a sign language based on English used by many late-deafened and oral deaf individuals.

Simultaneous Communication: a technique in which both a spoken language and a manual variant of that language (such as English and Manually Coded English) are used simultaneously. Also called SimCom or Sign Supported Speech (SSS).

speech-language pathologist: professional who specializes in communication and swallowing disorders.

sudden deafness: rapid loss of hearing that occurs all at once or over a period of up to 3 days; affects only one ear in most cases. Also called Sudden Sensorineural Hearing Loss (SSHL).

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terp: Slang interpreter.

tinnitus: the perception of non-existent noise, often “heard” as ringing or buzzing; common in some types of hearing loss.

Total Communication (TC): an approach to deaf education that aims to make use of any means of communication--sign language, voice, fingerspelling, lip-reading, amplification, writing, gesture, visual imagery, etc.--depending on the needs and abilities of the individual.

transliterator: a professional, similar to an interpreter, who conveys English in its exact form either through Signed English or Cued Speech.

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unilateral hearing loss: hearing loss in one ear.

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Video Relay Service (VRS): videotelecommunication service that enables deaf, hard-of-hearing, and speech-impaired people to communicate over video telephones and similar technologies with hearing people in realtime, using a sign language interpreter. Also called Video Interpreting Service.

voicewriting: using speech recognition software to produce captions; an alternative to
closed captioning and CART.

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Abbreviation List

ADA: Americans with Disabilities Act
AGB: Alexander Graham Bell
AIED: Autoimmune Inner Ear Disease
ALD: assistive listening device
ASL: American Sign Language
AVT: Auditory-Verbal Therapy or Auditory-Verbal Training
BAHA: bone implants
BIBI: bilingual-bicultural
BSL: British Sign Language
BTE: behind the ear (typically refers to hearing aids, but can also refer to cochlear implants)
CA: Communications Assistant (usually in relay services)
CAN: Computer-Assisted Note-Taking
CapTel: Captioned Telephone
CART: Communication Access Realtime Translation
CC: captioned or captioning
CDI: Certified Deaf Interpreter
CI: Cochlear Implant
CIC: completely in the canal (referring to hearing aids)
CODA: Children of Deaf Adults
dB: decibel
DHH: deaf and hard of hearing
DVR: Division of Vocational Rehabilation
ENT: Ear, nose, and throat (specialist)
GA: Go Ahead (used on TTYs)
HL: hearing loss
HOH: hard of hearing
IEP: Individualized Education Program
IS: International Sign
ITC: in the canal (hearing aids)
ITE: in the ear (hearing aids)
MCE: Manually Coded English
NAD: National Association of the Deaf
NTID: National Technical Institute for the Deaf
PSE: Pidgin Sign Language
RIT: Rochester Institute of Technology
SE: Signed English
SNHL: sensorineural hearing loss
SODA: Sibling of a Deaf Adult or Spouse of a Deaf Adult.
SK: Stop Keying (used on TTYs)
TC: Total Communication
TDD: Telecommunications Device for the Deaf
TTY: TeleTYpewriter
VP: video phone
VRS: Video Relay Service

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