You will see the word deaf spelled with either a lowercase 'd' and with an uppercase 'D." Here's why:
What Is the Difference Between 'deaf' and 'Deaf'?
According to the National Association of the Deaf (NAD):
The deaf and hard of hearing community is diverse. There are variations in how a person becomes deaf or hard of hearing, their level of hearing, age of onset, educational background, communication methods, and cultural identity. How people “label” or identify themselves is personal and may reflect identification with the deaf and hard of hearing community, the degree to which they can hear, or the relative age of onset. For example, some people identify themselves as “late-deafened,” indicating that they became deaf later in life. Other people identify themselves as “deaf-blind,” which usually indicates that they are deaf or hard of hearing and also have some degree of vision loss. Some people believe that the term “people with hearing loss” is inclusive and efficient. However, some people who were born deaf or hard of hearing do not think of themselves as having lost their hearing. Over the years, the most commonly accepted terms have come to be “deaf,” “Deaf,” and “hard of hearing.”
According to Deaf in America: Voices from a Culture (Carol Padden & Tom Humphries, 1990):
We use the lowercase deaf when referring to the audiological condition of not hearing, and the uppercase Deaf when referring to a particular group of deaf people who share a language – American Sign Language (ASL) – and a culture... Fewer than 10 percent are born to parents who are also Deaf. Consequently, in contrast to the situation in most cultures, the great majority of individuals within the community of Deaf people do not join it at birth.
Resources To Learn More:
Frequently asked questions about American Sign Language from the National Association of the Deaf (NAD).
Book by Carol A. Padden and Tom Humphries, available on Amazon.
Book by Carol A. Padden and Tom Humphries, available from Harvard University Press.
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