D/deaf : How Deaf Unity refers to deaf people
There are many different descriptions for people with hearing loss, depending on their experience of deafness.
The three main descriptions that deaf people use are Deaf with an uppercase D, deaf with a lowercase d and hard of hearing.
Across the Deaf Unity website and social media, we refer to all deaf people with a lowercase d. This is purposefully to be as inclusive as possible to everyone (both D/deaf and hard of hearing) whether they are part of the deaf community or not.
Below you’ll find easy to understand definitions of Deaf, deaf and hard of hearing.
Deaf with an uppercase D
- Deaf with an uppercase D is often used to describe people who were born deaf, or who became deaf and actively engage in the deaf community.
- People who identify as uppercase Deaf tend to prefer using sign language, as it may be their first language.
- The deaf community has its own culture and sense of identity, based on a shared language. Deaf people (with a capital D) are usually proud of their Deaf identity.
Deaf with a lowercase d
- Deaf with a lowercase d is used to describe anyone who has the medical condition of hearing loss.
- People who identify as lowercase d deaf tend not to have a strong connection to the deaf community. They are also most likely to use speech over sign language.
- Sometimes deaf is used to refer to people who are hard of hearing too.
Hard of Hearing
- Hard of hearing is used to describe someone with mild to moderate hearing loss.
- Those who identify as hard of hearing often don’t use sign language as their preferred language.