WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN DEAF WITH CAPITAL ‘D’ & DEAF WITH SMALL ‘D’?
“deaf” with small ‘d’ People who describes themselves as deaf with the “lowercase d” tends to match most of the following: they are not, chooses not or does not associate themselves as part of the Deaf community they may have also had little to no exposure to the Deaf community, perhaps due to their upbringings
If you have noticed from my writing, whether it’s here on this website or on social media, you may have noticed that I write “d/Deaf” in that format…and no, it’s not a typo.
This allows me to incorporate both the small ‘d’ and capital ‘D’ at the same when talking about this particular topic. This is not necessarily for convenience but mainly for identity and inclusion purposes.
But what is the difference between deaf and Deaf?
“Deaf” with capital ‘D’
People who describes themselves as Deaf with the “uppercase D” tends to match most of the following:
- identify themselves as culturally Deaf and part of the Deaf community
- they haven’t “lost” anything nor do they like to be labelled “hearing impaired” as they don’t see it as a medicial condition nor is it a disability. Instead, they see it as part of their identity
- they have a common use of sign language and on most occasions, it’s their primary sources of communication
- sign language tends to be their first language, but not always
- they have fully immersed themselves in the Deaf culture
- may have attended Deaf school
- takes great pride in their Deaf identity
“deaf” with small ‘d’
People who describes themselves as deaf with the “lowercase d” tends to match most of the following:
- they are not, chooses not or does not associate themselves as part of the Deaf community
- they may have also had little to no exposure to the Deaf community, perhaps due to their upbringings
- hearing loss is referred as a medical condition
- some may refer it as a disability
- they may have gradually lost their hearing and have not yet integrated to the community
- their first or primary choices of communication is not a sign language
- integrates with the hearing world and potentially feels more comfortable there
“d/Deaf” with big and small ‘d’
When referring to both sides of the equation together, writing “d/Deaf” or “D/deaf” can fit either category. This is particularly useful if you don’t know how a particular person prefers to identify themselves as, so it’s seen as a more inclusive option.