Sunday, 3 December 2023 is International Day of People with Disability (IDPD), a day set aside each year by the United Nations to celebrate the achievements and contributions of people with disability in our global communities.
IDPD is also an opportunity to consider the way we communicate with and about people with disabilities to ensure that our interactions are respectful, inclusive and culturally appropriate.
For deaf and hard of hearing people, respectful interactions occur when the language we use is strength-based and reflects the way in which deaf people identify themselves and describe their hearing loss. This will be a very personal and individual decision and may involve an audiological perspective in which deafness is viewed as a disability due to the inability or limitation to perceive sound, or a cultural perspective which views deafness as a linguistic and cultural difference and is celebrated as a positive and highly valued life experience.
The rate of the coexistence of additional disabilities or medical conditions in deaf and hard of hearing children is high. Between 40% and 50% of these children experience one or more additional disabilities, including cognitive and learning disabilities, cerebral palsy, autism, behavioural-emotional disorders, and visual impairment.