5 How Deaf People Identify Themselves

English Notes
BSL Video

How Deaf People Identify Themselves

There are 8.5 million people in Britain with a known hearing impairment. Of these, about 70,000 consider themselves members of the Deaf community. How is this decided?

To the general public, a hearing aid is one obvious way to identify a person with a hearing loss. However, many people with hearing aids do not consider themselves to be members of the Deaf community; nor do all members of the Deaf community wear a hearing aid. This distinction is reflected in our use of lower case ‘d’ and uppercase ‘D’ when spelling d/Deaf. We use the lower case 'd' when referring to the fact that a person is unable to hear; we use the upper case 'D' when referring to a person who identifies him/herself as using sign language and being  a member of the Deaf community.  The actual level of a person’s hearing can be less important than the points listed below.  .

Here are some of the ways in which members of the Deaf community identify each other:

1. by a person's fluency in BSL and daily use of the language

2. through a person's participation in Deaf community functions (i.e. sports, social and cultural events)

3. by having a majority of friends who are also community members

4. by shared or similar educational and/or life experiences

5. by shared political interests and awareness of issues affecting the Deaf community.

Some members (both deaf and hearing) are born into the community through having Deaf parents. Many people become part of the community as school children or school-leavers, or maybe they move into the community as young adults. Some people join even later, when they have learned to recognise the value of the Deaf community in their own lives.


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