Home Sign Language What’s the appropriate terminology when referring to deaf individuals?

What’s the appropriate terminology when referring to deaf individuals?

What’s the appropriate terminology when referring to deaf individuals?


What must you name a deaf individual? Simple reply: deaf.

Most deaf individuals want to be known as: deaf. It’s not a grimy phrase! Deaf and arduous of listening to are the 2 most generally accepted phrases to make use of when referring to somebody with listening to loss.

You can say:

    •    They’re deaf.
    •    They’re arduous of listening to.
    •    They’ve listening to loss.
    •    They’re somebody with listening to loss.

Deaf can be typically used to seek advice from individuals who establish as Deaf, deaf, deafblind, deafdisabled, arduous of listening to, late-deafened, and listening to impaired.

Nonetheless, some phrases similar to listening to impaired, deaf-mute, deaf and dumb, listening to poor, and disabled are thought of offensive and may NOT be used.


No. Deaf-mute is not an appropriate time period. Mute refers to somebody who can not discuss. Most deaf individuals have vocal chords and voices. Some deaf individuals simply want to speak completely in signal language.

Deaf-Dumb or Deaf and Dumb

No. Deaf-dumb was the nineteenth century terminology. Right now it’s an offensive time period.

Listening to Impaired or Listening to Poor

No. Some individuals assume the time period “listening to impaired” is extra well mannered than “deaf,” and that “listening to impaired” will not be as unhealthy as “deaf and dumb” or “deaf-mute,” however the time period listening to impaired remains to be detrimental/pejorative.

Listening to impaired defines deaf individuals when it comes to having damaged or faulty ears. It describes one thing that must be mounted in an effort to be labeled “regular.” It focuses on what individuals cannot do. These phrases ought to NOT be used.


No. Much like calling a deaf individual “impaired,” describing them as “disabled” is specializing in what they will NOT do. Deaf persons are very abled; they will do something besides hear.

There are various establishments, similar to authorities, instructional, and medical establishments that use long-established phrases which have develop into outdated. Establishments could be gradual to vary. In case you are searching for greatest practices, take a look at the terminology utilized by organizations run by the Deaf. Ask the deaf individual or deaf individuals how they establish themselves.

Deaf vs. deaf

Being deaf and Deaf usually are not the identical factor.

The phrase deaf (not capitalized) is the terminology used to explain the audiological situation of listening to loss.

The phrase Deaf (capitalized) is the terminology utilized by deaf people who find themselves culturally deaf and establish themselves as members of a Deaf group. On this context, the phrase Deaf is related to nice satisfaction for one’s tradition and group. That is typically known as “massive D Deaf.”

In regards to the Authors

Marta Belsky Marta Belsky is Deaf and a 3rd era ASL person. She has been educating ASL for 30 years and enjoys sharing her native language with new customers. Marta is on the Lansing Group Faculty Interpreter Coaching Program Advisory Board and has additionally been a board member for the Michigan Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf and the Michigan Chapter of American Signal Language Lecturers Affiliation.

Extra about Marta  |  Articles by Marta

Brenda CartwrightBrenda Cartwright is a seasoned interpreter, a grasp instructor, well-known presenter, and writer of a number of greatest promoting signal language and deciphering textbooks from the RID Press. For 35 years Brenda was the Chair of the Signal Language Interpreter Program at Lansing Group Faculty in Lansing, Michigan.

Extra about BC  |  Articles by BC