Myths and Stereotypes about People Who Are Deaf or Hard of Hearing

MYTH: All hearing losses are the same.

FACT: The single term "deafness" covers a wide range of hearing losses that have very different effects on a person's ability to process sound, and thus, to understand speech.

MYTH: All deaf people are mute.

FACT: Some deaf people speak very well and clearly; others do not because their hearing loss prevented them from learning spoken language. Deafness usually has little effect on the vocal chords, and very few deaf people are truly mute.

MYTH: Hearing aids restore hearing.

FACT: Hearing aids amplify sound. They have no effect on a person's ability to process that sound. In cases where hearing loss distorts incoming sounds, a hearing aid can do nothing.

MYTH: All deaf people can read lips.

FACT: Some deaf people are very skilled lip readers, but many are not. This is because many speech sounds have identical lip movements. For example, "b" and "p" look exactly alike on the lips.

MYTH: All deaf people use sign language.

FACT: Many deaf people, especially those who were deaf at any early age, use sign language. Many others do not. There are several different sign systems in America which have been developed in addition to American Sign Language - the language commonly used by profoundly deaf people.

MYTH: Deaf people are not sensitive to noise.

FACT: Some types of hearing loss actually accentuate sensitivity to noise. Loud sounds become garbled and uncomfortable. Hearing aid users often find loud sounds, which are greatly magnified by their aids, very unpleasant.