National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders: Name Change Needed?

In the August 2008 issue of Maxim magazine, the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders responded to a reader's question by confirming that MP3 players and earbuds can cause permanent damage to your ears.

Nice little public service announcement there, yes.

But, hello, am I the only one who's offended?

Look, I'm not all that familiar with NIDCD, but I'm sure they've helped countless people with bona fide communication disorders and other medical issues. I also understand they're a member of National Institutes of Health (NIH), which is nothing to scoff at.

At the same time: Isn't it kind of rude to lump "deafness" together with "other communication disorders?" Hello? Excuse me?

I'm serious. I'm at a loss for words (now that's a first). It took me several minutes to type this far. I keep looking at Deafness and Other Communication Disorders and its so maddening I don't know where to begin.

This is not the first time I've reacted this way upon reading a news blurb from the National Institute on Deafness and, uh, urk, ack, errr, uhhh, Other Communication Disorders. I've bit my tongue (or sat on my hands) in the past out of respect for certain people each time it happened. But the truth remains: Every time I see "and Other Communication Disorders" I really do feel offended.

Am I getting through to anyone yet? Yes? No?

All right, let's play a little game of Perspective.

If National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders is acceptable, I say it's time we jump on the bandwagon and expand on this for the betterment of society. How about if for good measure we set up the following new organizations:

National Institute on Racial Diversity and Other Pigment Disorders

National Institute on Women and Other Penis Disorders

National Institute on Religion and Other Delusional Disorders

National Institute on Politics and Other Pathological Lying Disorders

Have I offended anyone? Good! That's how I feel when I see "and Other Communication Disorders" attached to the community where I belong.

Need I go on? Hell yes, I will. I'm having too much fun with this.

I'm deaf as a post. If you're reading this, we're connecting somehow. I made a point, and you got it. Doesn't matter if you agree or disagree. Holy crap, we communicated! Congratulations.

My ability to communicate isn't limited to the Internet. If you want to stay on a technical level you could add e-mail, pager, videophone, and whatnot. But I want to emphasize that I do pretty well in person, too. Ditto for my family, several of whom are deaf. We communicate just fine with each other. In two languages. I also know other deaf people who are fluent in as many as four different languages.

Have I made it clear yet that being deaf in itself is not a communication disorder?

I know, I know. Some hands are raised in objection. Someone out there no doubt wants to point out that deafness can pose a communication barrier between the deaf and hearing, and by that logic we have a communication disorder.

Um, let's go back to square one.

I'm deaf as a post. If you're reading this, and you're a hearing person, we're connecting somehow. I made a point, and you got it. Doesn't matter if you agree or disagree. Doesn't matter if you're hearing and I'm deaf. Holy crap, we communicated! Congratulations.

And the deaf/hearing communication barrier isn't smashed just on the Internet. If you want to stay on a technical level you could add e-mail, pager, videophone, and whatnot. A certain percentage of the deaf community will also use any number of assistive devices. Others will improvise and find another way. The latter applies to my family - none of us wear so much as a hearing aid but we communicate just fine with hearing relatives, neighbors, friends, and so on. Where's the communication disorder?

If you introduced me to someone new and I promptly started barking, then you could make an argument that I had a communication disorder. If I greeted people by sniffing their armpits or insisted on perpetually ordering my Happy Meal in Klingon, then likewise you'd have a good case.

But no, I and every deaf person I know tend to do just fine communicating with each other and the world at large, thank you very much. So pardon me if I get offended when I see the name National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders.

Look, I know there are very real communication disorders and NIDCD does us a great service by addressing them. I'm all for it, and my hat's off to them in that respect. I'll be the first to tell you that most likely there are a lot of good things NIDCD does that I'm not aware of (I'd be more aware if I wasn't immediately turned off by their name, which is why I'm suggesting a change).

And there is indeed a certain communication disorder - no, wait a minute, make that communication delay that takes place when some parents aren't sure what to do when their newborn baby is identified as deaf. There are a lot of communication non-disordered deaf people out there who can be great resources in this area. They might be more inclined to help if there was a little name change. Perhaps it would make more sense to name this organization National Institute on Communication Disorders and leave it at that.

Just my two cents.

Two cents that were communicated quite clearly, I hope.

Best regards,


What Other Visitors Have Said

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I totally agree! 
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How is being deaf not a disorder? 
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NIH's isn't the only one... 
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Yep! Why? 
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A bit of history 
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Good Grief..... 
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I also see deafness being lumped with the communication disorders in the college catalogs. I evaluate the college transcripts. I often see them. I often …

Right On! 
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