At present, the community of persons with disabilities who have a hearing problem asks to be called teman Tuli. The use of name is not without reason, various references that convey arguments are exposed from various sources, such as the Big Indonesian Language Dictionary (Kamus Besar Bahasa Indonesia), articles in the media, and journalistic writing.

For public, the terms of teman Tuli (with ‘T’ capital letters) and tuna rungu are considered to have ownership of meaning. While in the end, the two terms have differences. What is also not well known is that the term of Tuli (with ‘T’ uppercase letters) turns out to be different from the term of tuli (with ‘t’ lowercase letters). To enrich our knowledge, there are terms of person with disabilities that connected with a hearing issue.

Tuli / Deaf (with ‘T’ a capital letter)

In the Big Indonesian language Dictionary (KBBI), deaf with lowercase and deaf with uppercase apparently have a different meaning. If we type the word ‘tuli’ or ‘Tuli’ in KBBI, the two definitions emerge:

  1. a tidak dapat mendengar (karena rusak pendengarannya); pekak; tunarungu

(can’t hear because of hearing loss); deaf

  • (dengan huruf besar) tidak bisa mendengar dan menggunakan bahasa isyarat untuk berkomunikasi

(in capital letters) cannot hear and using a sign language to communicate

For the deaf community, the use of the term of Tuli (with capital letters’ T) is considered better than tuli (with ‘t’ lowercase letters). Why? Because writing Tuli with ‘T’ capital letter, at the same time shows the identity of the deaf as a group of people who have an identity, have a sign language, and its own culture.

 ‘Teman Tuli’ (Deaf friend)

The term of teman Tuli (with ‘T’ capital letter) is a term that used today by the deaf community. Regarding the meaning of Tuli (with ‘T’ capital letter), the term of teman Tuli  (with ‘T’ capital letter) shows the identity of a group that they are a proud to have a sign language and not embarrassing to communicate with teman dengar / friend to hear (a term for people who can hear).

Teman Tuli believes that there is nothing to distinguish between them and ‘friend to hear’, all they can do except to hear.  When ‘friend to hear’ speak by voice, teman Tuli uses a sign language. That is called a various of culture.

‘tuli’ (with ‘t’ lowercase letters)

The term of tuli (with t lowercase letters) is defined as a person who has a hearing loss referring to a medical model, and the meaning is the same as hearing impaired. The Deaf community argues that the term of tuli (with‘t’ lowercase letter) is the same meaning that they are no longer moving towards to social and human rights models.

The term of tuli (with‘t’ lowercase letter) derived from the medical model has an explanation. The term of tuli (with‘t’ lowercase letter) is a conductive hearing loss which is a hearing loss caused by abnormalities in the external ear and / or middle ear. Here is some hearing loss:

• Nerve or sensorineural hearing loss is a hearing loss due to damage to the auditory nerve, even though there is no interference in the outer or middle ear.

• Mixed Hearing Disorders, which are disorders that are a mixture of the two types of hearing disorders mentioned above, in addition to experiencing abnormalities in the outer and middle ear also suffer from hearing loss.

Budaya Tuli (Deaf Culture)

Each community group has its own culture as well as the Deaf as a minority group also has a different culture from the hearing people (non-Deaf). However, even as a minority they also have the same cultural elements as the majority (non-deaf), such as: language, history, values, behavioral systems, belief systems, traditions, social systems, struggles and arts.

The origins of culture in people’s lives certainly cannot be separated from the history of why such things exist and can occur. The same is true of the Deaf culture in Indonesia. The history of the Deaf is always attached to and introduces the Deaf culture itself.

The history of the Deaf is also poured into literary forms such as: poetry created from the reflection of the Deaf experience, classifier stories, stories using the alphabet and numbers in sign language, and narration. The tradition in the Deaf group is almost the same as the listening group, namely: get-togethers from the young to the old still often gather, sports activities, narrators, art, etc.

Tuna rungu (hearing impairment)

In the big Indonesian Language Dictionary (KBBI), hearing impairment means hearing loss and is considered better, smoother, polite, and formal. Tuna rungu has the same meaning as ‘tuli’ (with lowercase letter).

Based on the background, the term of tuna rungu is a term of medical approach that it was mentioned by doctors in the sense of a person whose hearing is damaged.

In addition, the medical approach that has been used tends to optimize a hearing ability in the various ways in the purposing of resembling to those who can hear. For the Deaf Community, this is considered contrary to respect of cultural diversity, namely, the Deaf culture.

Teman dengar (friend to hear)

Teman dengar are those who cannot talk with teman Tuli (deaf friend). Teman Tuli are those who cannot speak, but they are communicating with a sign language. In term of cultural respect, it is an obligation to all to learn a sign language.

So, now we already know the distinction of term for people with hearing problem. Which once that we must use it? ‘Tuli’ with ‘T’ capital letter is the term they really want.