The following is a short list of common myths about Deaf people:
All Deaf people wear hearing aids, and hearing aids restore hearing.
Hearing aids are assistive devices that, at their most basic function, amplify sound. The use of hearing aids is restricted to those who have enough residual hearing to make effective use of them. While many deaf people have some degree of residual hearing, it may not be enough to utilize a hearing aid. Even if it is, a deaf person may choose not to wear one.
The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) provides more in depth information about Hearing Aids, their purpose, functionality and limitations.
All Deaf people read lips. Lipreading is such a precise science that lipreaders can understand what’s being said from across the room.
Speechreading, historically known as lipreading, is not considered an acquirable skill, but rather an inborn talent. Only a small percentage of deaf people are considered expert speechreaders, meaning they may be able to understand 50-75% of what is said. For the rest, word comprehension may be in the realm of 5%-10%; comprehension of the actual subject matter and concepts being presented is often low due to the strain of attempting to decipher words.
All Deaf people use sign language.
Not all Deaf people communicate in the same way. American Sign Language (ASL), Signed English (SEE), speechreading, writing, gesturing, and speaking are all methods of communication which may be utilized by different Deaf people.
All Deaf people are mute.
Never assume that Deaf people cannot speak. Some can, but choose not to; some cannot. Compare this with hearing people and their ability or inability to sing. Some can and choose not to; some cannot. Those Deaf people who do choose to speak will often have an accent, which is sometimes difficult to understand; however, do not shame a Deaf person who chooses to speak by telling her her voice is incomprehensible. Instead, tactfully suggest it will be easier for both of you to communicate by writing until a better communication method is available.
Deaf people are less intelligent than hearing people. Deaf people who speak and who have good English skills are more intelligent than those who do not.
Hearing and speech usage have nothing to do with intelligence; likewise, the ability to speak English does not demonstrate IQ. Our society tends to belittle or dismiss those for whom English is a second language, when in reality many of these same people have keen minds and excellent use of their first language. This holds true for many Deaf people as well.