Topic: Maurice: "Deaf-blind" or "deafblind": Why We Still Use the Hyphen

Date 11/20/2009

By Toni Hollingsworth, MS Deaf-Blind Project

Subject term "deaf-blind" vs deafblind

Maurice - as always you have shared very deep insights into this issue, and I appreciate your clear explanation of the thinking behind your efforts. I, too, have this often on my mind, and have recently done a brief web search to discover how the terms are found in the online dictionaries. I have concern that we're not accessible enough for families and professionals in our marketing of ourselves. So, I looked for three different ways of spelling: "deaf-blind," "deaf blind," and "deafblind." What I found in Merriam-Webster's, was that none of the three options exist. On Wikipedia, and both only have "deafblind." On the Cambridge Advanced Learner Dictionary, none of the three options appeared. MSN Encarta has "deafblind," but not "deaf-blind," or "deaf blind." The Free Dictionary by Farlex has "deafblind" and "deaf-blindness," but not "deaf-blind," nor "deaf blind." The last one I checked was which also had none of these options.

This really raises some concerns for me that the term, however, written does not even exist in so many places. I think that this fact and other ways that we're not so good about marketing ourselves contributes to perpetuating the "low-incident" nature of the dual sensory loss, and lack of understanding of the impact upon those who live with the combination of loss. I have not yet petitioned these online dictionaries to include all of these combinations so that which ever way a person looks up the definition, one may be obtained with all the possible ways of seeing the concept in text. Obviously, I'm in process with it by sharing this with you and the others reading this blog, and am open for ideas of next steps.