Why the term “hearing” people?

When non-deaf people describe themselves, they usually don’t say, “I’m hearing” or “I’m a hearing person.” They see themselves as people. They may describe themselves in terms of their appearance, as tall, short, thin, fat, or dumpy, male or female, as members of a racial, ethnic, religious, national, regional, or linguistic group, as members of a profession or trade, as homemakers or retirees or freelancers or between jobs, possibly even in terms of a disability or chronic illness that defines or limits their lives in some way. But they very, very rarely define themselves as “hearing people.”

This term “hearing people,” and its slang counterparts, “hearings” or “hearies,” are used by deaf people to describe persons who aren’t deaf. Hearing people tend to define deaf people in terms of their deaf-ness, so deaf people have turned the tables and define non-deaf people in terms of their hearing-ness. If “hearings” are insiders and “deafs” are outsiders, this book presents a view from the inside of the “outside” Deaf community, for the benefit of our hearing readers. This book takes you inside, and, we hope, gives you a fresh perspective on labels, identities, self-images, and definitions.

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