Understanding Deaf Culture and the Deaf World


Deaf people as a linguistic minority have a common experience of life, and this manifests itself in Deaf culture. This includes beliefs, attitudes, history, norms, values, literary traditions, and art shared by Deaf people.

Deaf culture is at the heart of Deaf communities everywhere in the world. Each Deaf community is a cultural group which shares a sign language and a common heritage. Members of Deaf communities all around the world therefore identify themselves as members of a cultural and linguistic group. Identification with the Deaf community is a personal choice and is usually made independent of the individual’s hearing status, and the community is not automatically composed of all people who are Deaf or hard of hearing.  The Deaf community may also include family members of Deaf people, sign language interpreters and people who work or socialize with Deaf people who identify with Deaf culture. A person is a member of the Deaf community if he or she self-identifies as a member of the Deaf community, and if other members accept that person as a member. Very often this acceptance is strongly linked to competence in a signed language.

For more information on this topic please visit:

  • Visual Language and Visual Learning Parent Toolkit - VL2 Parent Resources is a database hosting a collection of tip sheets, research briefs, webcasts, tutorials and quick Web links. The Toolbox Web linksTM are topical collections of web resources compiled as easy-to-access central points of information for parents.
  • Hands and Voices Articles - Hands and Voices archives articles on many topics of interest in understanding the Deaf World and Deaf Culture.