EDCO students advocate to change term "hearing impaired" in state laws

EDCO+students+advocate+to+change+term+%26quot%3Bhearing+impaired%26quot%3B+in+state+laws

Sophie Murthy

A bill recently filed in the Massachusetts state senate would change the term “hearing impaired” to “deaf or hard of hearing” in all state general laws as a result of a letter writing campaign in November by students in the EDCO program.

EDCO teacher Debbie Knisell, senior Marc Hauser, juniors Elizabeth Merrick and Sergio Trioani, sophomores Chloe Jean-Pierre and Brian Jimenez, and freshman Paul Bishop wrote letters to Senator Cynthia Creem, (D-first Middlesex and Norfolk) because they thought “hearing impaired” was not the right term to describe the deaf and hard of hearing, according to Jean-Pierre.

“We don’t like ‘hearing impaired.’ That made us feel like we’re broken, but we’re really not,” she said. “We can function, and we thought the right word for it was ‘hard of hearing’ and not ‘hearing impaired.’”  

Bishop added that the term “hearing impaired” creates a false impression of people who are deaf or hard of hearing. “Impaired means handicapped, but being deaf or hard of hearing is not a disability. It’s just a thing that you have,” he said.

In order to be approved, the bill has to go through a two-year legislative process, according to the Massachusetts policy counsel office.