Important Definitions

Below are important words associated with Deafness from a social & cultural perspective

*These are just a few of many*

Deaf Culture

Deaf Culture involves beliefs, artistic expressions, behaviors and language expressions that Deaf people use.

In Deaf culture, Deaf people do not see themselves as tragically isolated from society - they see benefits to being Deaf. 

Hearing culture focuses on auditory modality, whereas Deaf culture focuses on visual modality.


Deafhood is the process individuals undergo to accept themselves as being Deaf

It involves the processing & reconstructing of Deaf traditions related to becoming & staying "Deaf". 

Deafhood is always changing!

Deaf Pride

The value Deaf people put on their own deafness.

Many Deaf people feel they are part of a cultural and linguistic minority.

Cultural Capital 

Deaf cultural capital wealth looks at being Deaf as a positive attribute, which promotes resilience in the face of difficult experiences.  

Visual language, visual learning and connections with Deaf people are examples of Deaf cultural capital wealth. 

Deaf Gain

Deaf gain involves the benefits & contributions Deaf people make to society in general.

It makes a point that there is a gain to being Deaf!

Deaf Ethnicity 

Deaf people are an ethnic group because of their biological similarity, shared language and kinship.

Sources/Learn More

“About Us.” National Association of the Deaf,

Ladd, Paddy, and Harlan Lane. “Deaf Ethnicity, Deafhood, and Their Relationship.” Sign Language Studies, Gallaudet University Press, 26 July 2013,

Leigh, Irene W., et al. Deaf Culture: Exploring Deaf Communities in the United States. Plural Publishing, 2022.

Vallín, Elisa Nuevo. “Shifting from Hearing Loss to ‘Deaf Gain.’” Deafumbrella, Deafumbrella, 22 June 2021,

“What Is Deaf Culture?” DEAF CULTURE CENTRE, 23 Feb. 2022,