There are various terms used for describing people with different degrees and types of deafness.

The vast majority of the estimated 3.5 million Australians living with hearing health issues do not dwell on terminology.

The key point is that people can use whatever term they feel most comfortable with.

The most common terms:

deaf is a general term used to describe the physical condition of not hearing.

Hearing impaired is a term used to describe people who have lost hearing acuity at a stage in their lives or over time, such as through the natural ageing process. These people listen and speak with the aid of a hearing device (hearing aid or cochlear implant). They can sometimes lip-read to varying degrees of success (harder than it looks). Some use sign language as well.

Hard of hearing is an international phrase that some people use to describe acquired hearing loss. It’s a popular term among organisations but Deafness Forum’s consumer surveys show that it’s not favoured by people who live with a loss of hearing acuity.

Hearing loss is often an informal term to describe a diminishing hearing acuity.

Deaf (with a capital D) most often describes people who identify themselves as culturally Deaf and who communicate principally in sign language. It is estimated there are between 5,00 and 10,000 native Auslan users in Australia.