The deaf and hard of hearing community is heterogeneous group. People with hearing loss are from many different races, ethnicities,
religions, sexual orientations, and cultures. There are many causes of hearing loss and different degrees of hearing loss.
Each deaf or hard
of hearing individual has a unique perspective on his or her hearing loss. These perspectives can vary due to an individual’s age of onset, educational background, communication styles, family and community life, as well as their own feelings about hearing loss.
Although great diversity exists among those with hearing loss, many individuals who are deaf share a common language and culture, referred
to as Deaf culture. In 1972 James Woodward proposed a convention of using the lowercase deaf when referring to the audiological
condition of not hearing, and the uppercase Deaf when referring to a particular group of people who share a language and identify with
a culture (Woodward, 1972). Culture is defined as a set of learned behaviors of a group of people who have their own language, values, rules of behavior, and
traditions. Members of Deaf culture pass on their language and traditions through generations and share pride in their culture. Many will
actively seek other Deaf individuals to socialize with, and often, individuals will marry other members of Deaf culture. Individuals
who are Deaf often attend Deaf churches, schools for the d/Deaf, and participate in distinct social, sports, or recreational institutions and activities. It has been estimated that about 90% of deaf children have hearing parents (Garrett, et al., 2006). Since Genetics in the Practice
of Speech Language Pathology and Audiology (Garrett, et al., 2006). Since most deaf individuals are born into hearing families, a great majority of Deaf individuals are not born in to their culture, but instead choose Deaf culture for themselves.
The essential link to Deaf culture among the American deaf community is not the degree of hearing loss but rather the preference for
communicating using American Sign Language, or ASL. ASL was developed by American deaf people to communicate with each other. In 1817,
Laurent Clerc and Thomas H. Gallaudet established the first school for the deaf in the United States. The signed language that developed
was a combination of French signs and signs brought in by the students. This language became what is now known as American Sign Language. Since
then, the language has spread to other parts of the United States and Canada, primarily through residential schools
for the d/Deaf. See the following website to review the genetics educational resources currently offered by Gallaudet University: