There's a new term being used and that's "Deaf Gain." Jannelle Legg and Sophie Sok at Gallaudet University explained in an article about the term.
The term “Deaf-gain” was coined in 2005 by a British performing artist visiting Gallaudet. Deafened later in life, Aaron Williamson noted that with each interaction doctors repeated that familiar refrain “hearing loss.” This experience, familiar to most deaf people, compelled him to posit the question, why “hearing loss and not gaining deafness?” That question is an important one because it calls attention to a fundamental issue in Deaf studies. The culturally Deaf experience is not, as many believe, a dramatic loss of hearing. Instead, deafness grants an entrée into a language, a culture and a way of life that is not only unique, it is valuable.
I have no compunction in pointing this out in my blog about the term, which is fine and dandy if people feel the need to use this alternative but positive term, however, a person is still a person and he or she is just as important as the next one.
But let me put this into context about "Deaf Gain."
What about terms like "Blind Gain" as something that's (supposedly) positive for those experiencing vision loss or complete blindness? Or what about "Deaf-Blind Gain"? Or "One Hand Gain" for those who lost the functional use of their hand or through amputation?
I understand how some deaf people are trying to put a positive spin on their deafness and access to deaf culture but the medical fact cannot be escaped or hidden away. A person may have a condition either involving hearing loss, vision loss or a missing or malfunctioning extremity such as a missing hand or whatever else that's "missing" or not "functioning" properly. A person is still a person no matter what. Best to make life as positive as possible with what you have rather than not what you do not have. That's what makes a person whole.
However, there are those who have a condition or senses that are somewhat "functional" such as those with, for example, mild, moderate or severe hearing loss who use a hearing aid. Though not at the level of a hearing person but it's the next best thing to have. Same for those with varying amount of vision loss requiring thicker or stronger lenses to see better for those with 20/40, 20/50 or 20/60 vision, for example. A semi-functional hand though weakened in it's functionality. Or a person with limited hearing loss and vision loss but is able to use those senses with limited success with various aids or devices used.
Even with limited functionality, a person can still feel whole as long as he or she is treated with respect as a human being for who he or she is.
Let's take myself as an example. I have a moderate-severe hearing loss in my right ear while my left is no good with profound hearing loss. I'm not afraid to use the term "hearing loss" because that is what it is. A hearing loss. A medical fact. But with my right ear I use a hearing aid that can boost what hearing I have left. My hearing aid has allowed me to successfully use what limited sound I can get out of it to the point of using the phone with anyone, field radios, talking with strangers in the street, help modulate my voice, and so on with success. In fact, I'm thankful for the limited hearing that I have. Just as I'm thankful that I can still see even though I need to wear my reading glasses. As for my hearing aid, it gave me "Hearing Gain." Would that be a term I'd use? No. It wouldn't make sense. But that hearing aid has allowed me to access to the hearing world the culture of sound. Without it I would have never taken up piano at age 7 where I'm now a Ragtime pianist.
It's all about preference when it comes to describing how one positively sees him or herself as. Again, not about putting down "Deaf Gain" but I am questioning about the use of that same term for other loss of senses and re-frame it into a context of a person who, for example, lost her sight completely, would that be a "Blind Gain"? Or a person who lost an arm? "One Arm Gain"? Or lost the use of her legs unable to walk for the rest of her life? "No Legs Gain"? Or a stroke affecting the mental capacity of a person, would that be "Mentally-challenged Gain"? It would just sound totally creepy if not pitiful.
The point is people would find it odd to think that losing one of your senses later in life would constitute as a "gain." I understand the whole point behind "Deaf Gain" but it's not a term that every person with a hearing loss would use.