Sorting out terminology


This word has a kind of finality and dread about it.

But the alternatives are clunky.

Visually impaired is to blind, what hearing impaired is to deaf. Clunkity clunk.

The same goes for ‘vision loss’, ‘partially sighted’, ‘visual disability’.

Blind is a lot more rounded and much easier to say or sign. However, I find it a heck of a lot more scary. Blind is terrifying, right? Well it was until I found out that blind covers a whole gamut of sight loss, just the way that deaf covers a range of hearing loss. You do not have to see nothing to be blind. It fact you can see a whole lot and still be blind.

So being DeafBlind just means you have combined hearing and sight loss of whatever degree.

Right now, so that word just became a whole lot less scary. It ain’t a gremlin or a taboo word to be feared anymore.

Maybe people with Usher should reclaim it like gay people reclaimed ‘queer’ and Deaf people reclaimed the sign for ‘Deaf and dumb’.

I am going to use it in this blog – cos if everyone started using it in its proper sense then it would lose its potency for striking fear into the hearts of all deaf people. It would just mean any deaf person who also has any degree of sight loss. No biggy right?

It would no longer conjure up images of people leading lonely lives in total darkness and silence. That just is not the reality for most DeafBlind people.

Of course many people with Usher prefer just to refer to themselves as having Usher, rather than being DeafBlind. Fair dos. I do too. This will get you a long way in the Deaf Community where most people know a bit about Usher, but try telling the cinema cashier you have Usher and you will get a blank look. Telling them that you are DeafBlind will get you a nice reduction with zero faff.

3 thoughts on “Sorting out terminology”

  1. It depends on who I’m telling it to. I say Usher to Deaf community and they know it. I don’t say it to hearies as they wont understand, if I say Blind to hearies they give me strange looks thinking how can she be Blind? She can see me! So I say I’m partially sighted and they understand. How weird is this?!!!

  2. I guess I have taken a long time to realise that Blind doesn’t necessarily mean totally no sight, that condition which from a child I found fascinating but scary. Though I have a blind friend who can still see a bit and though my mum was registered blind too, I think that my childish notion of total lack of sight is still lurking in my head. Thanks for pointing this out in your usual refreshingly straight way.

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