About language and culture
Different terms can be used to describe people who are deaf or hard of hearing. The Department of Education respects the right of all people to choose how they identify themselves. You can speak with your child’s school about how they would like to be identified.
The department is guided by the joint agreement (1991) of the World Federation of the Deaf and the International Federation of the Hard of Hearing and uses the following terms:
- Deaf (with a capitalised D) is used to describe those who use Auslan (Australian Sign Language) to communicate, and who identify as members of the signing Deaf community.
- Deaf (with a small d) is a more general term used to describe the physical condition of not hearing, and also to describe people who are physically deaf but do not identify as members of the signing Deaf community.
- Hard of hearing is the term that Deaf Australia now uses to describe those who have acquired a hearing loss in late childhood or adulthood, or who have a mild or moderate hearing loss.
Many people continue to use the term ‘hearing impaired’ in preference to ‘hard of hearing’. Using the wrong term can easily offend.
Culturally, deaf people do not like the term ‘hearing impaired’, perceiving it as negative and clinical.
Hard of hearing people do not like being identified by the terms ‘Deaf’ or ‘deaf’, so it is important to check the preferred term with each Deaf/hard of hearing child/staff member.
Where a large, mixed group of people is being referred to, it is appropriate to use more than one term, e.g. television subtitles are enjoyed by deaf and hard of hearing people throughout Australia.
Working with other service providers
Your child may be receiving supports and services outside of school. State schools can work with other services when making reasonable adjustments at school.
You can talk to your school about the supports your child is receiving outside school and provide them with any reports or information you think is important. The school can consult other service providers about your child’s needs but only with your consent.
Finding support and advice
Your child may be eligible for supports through the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) including early intervention support for children aged 0 to 6 years.
A wide range of organisations can also provide other support services, assessments and advice if your child is deaf or hard of hearing. The following websites provide a good starting point to access supports and advice.