What is the difference between deaf and Deaf?

The term "deaf" (with a lowercase d) is used to reference individuals by hearing status, not affiliation with a particular culture. While these individuals may have a hearing loss, they may identify as members of any culture.

On the other hand, "Deaf" (with a capital D), often times called "Big 'D' Deaf," is a cultural label used amongst members of the Deaf community. This label is used to refer to individuals or groups of individuals who are part of Deaf Culture--a culture with it's own language (American Sign Language), social beliefs, traditions, literature, art, history and values. Members of the Deaf community do not view their deafness as a disability, and may find it offensive to be labeled as such. In fact given changes in U.S. legislation (ADA, IDEA, etc.) as well as technological advances (text messaging, email and video relay interpreting) the phrase "Deaf people can do anything but hear" has become a trademark of the Deaf community.

Deaf Culture is inclusive of individuals who are deaf, as well as their friends, families, and paraprofessionals such as sign language interpreters.

Lucas Lancaster
Communication Manager
Gracias Video Relay Services