A scetch of a man signing the word for Deaf

Why is Deaf Capitalized?

asl blog deaf culture why is deaf capitalized? Mar 30, 2023

Deaf vs deaf, what is the difference?

Many people feel that these labels are divisive and they are not wrong. Some people take this too far and instantly shun people who identify as the other one. 

The way I see it -- it's a graduation. 

Growing up, I hated it when people noticed my hearing aids. I purposely had my braids hanging down my face to hide them. I didn't want people to dismiss me or think ill of me. Typically, what happened when people found out I had a "hearing loss" (I don't like that term), was a look of sadness and/or pity would cross their faces which in turn made me feel ashamed. I didn't choose this disability (another word I despise) but I didn't know how to embrace it or be proud of it until college. 

Lowercase deaf typically focuses on the negative side of being deaf. The medical side. Most medical professionals will tell you that there is something wrong with being deaf. Therefore, you should enroll in speech therapy and try hard to be normal. This is how I perceived myself for most of my life. I didn't want to stick out like a sore thumb so I tried my best to fit in -- to be hearing like the people around me wanted to be. 

Uppercase Deaf means culturally Deaf. This focuses on the positives of being Deaf. The culture and the language are at the forefront. There is nothing wrong with being Deaf - it's a way of life. I wish I knew this side of being Deaf earlier - it would have saved me so many tears and heartaches. 

Growing up, I had no role models who were Deaf. As an elementary student, I honestly thought I was the only one. I wanted so badly to be more like my friends but I wasn't meant to be like them. I was and still am meant to be Deaf and for the last 5 years, I am finally happy about that. 

My advice to all those struggling with identity within the Deaf community - take a step outside of your "normal" and seek out those who identify the same as you. Once I found my true community, my fears began to diminish and my dreams flew higher. Yours can too! 

Deaf can do anything but hear! - I. King Jordan, the First Deaf president of Gallaudet University,1988

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