Deafness is not what it used to be. Nor has it ever been just one thing, but many. Typically it refers to those who cannot understand speech through hearing alone, with or without amplification. Colloquially, it may also refer to any hearing impairment, as when a person is described as “a little deaf.” Professionals in education and communication sciences distinguish prelingual from postlingual deafness, in recognition of their different implications for speech and language learning. Within the deaf community, in contrast, the term “deaf,” as well as its signed equivalent, usually refers to people who identify culturally as deaf, and is sometimes capitalized (“Deaf”) to distinguish the culture from the audiological condition.

This essay may be found on page 48 of the printed volume.

Works Cited
Permanent Link to this Essay