N: Deaf and Hard of Hearing



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You likely know or live with someone who is deaf or hard of hearing. About 20% of the US population deals with this issue [4]. While many are older, there are a number of youth who are deaf or hard of hearing.  This module will help you understand how hearing reductions can affect Scouts and give you tips and ideas on how to help them be successful and engaged in the Scouting program.

A hearing reduction can come from any of the three parts of the hearing system. The first part is mechanical transformation of sound into a nerve signal as it is funneled in from the outer ear, across the eardrum, through the internal bones, and in the cochlea.  Differences in these parts can result in not hearing sounds loudly or reduced hearing at some pitches (frequencies).

The second part is getting the nerve signal from the mechanical part of the ear to the brain.  Even if the mechanics are OK, problems with the auditory nerve can keep the signal from reaching its destination.

The third part of the hearing system is the brain itself, which decodes what is heard into words and language.  An example of this type of hearing problem is called auditory processing disorder or central auditory processing disorder. This disorder is the auditory counterpart to dyslexia.  The person hears all the sounds at normal volume but struggles to make sense of the sounds and words and interpret the spoken language. Central auditory processing disorder is discussed at length in Module Q (link) with other learning disorders. A different struggle for the “brain” part of hearing is being able to filter out or ignore some sounds while listening to others.  One example is the “party” effect where you can shift your attention and listen to a conversation across the room while tuning out the one right beside you. Another version is when you ignore background noise to focus on someone speaking to you.

The extent of a hearing reduction can vary all along the scale. It can range from difficulty hearing whispers, to having sound muted or garbled, to no understanding of speech at all, to total deafness. Hearing tests measure both the ability to hear a tone at varying levels of loudness and the ability to discriminate speech.  In professional circles, there are many different classifications of hearing reductions, but in this discussion, we will simplify this to just a few to help you understand the differences.

Those with mild hearing loss struggle to hear soft sounds or high pitch sounds, like birds chirping or the melody of a song. Other sounds that may be missed are the sound of wind blowing through the leaves of trees or water running in a stream or faucet. People in this group may not even know that they are missing anything.

As hearing reduction moves into the moderate hearing loss range, the person hears sounds, but has trouble distinguishing between words.  Human speech has very subtle differences between sounds.  For example, think about how little difference there is between the words “great” and “crate”, or between “gate” and cake”.  These kinds of subtleties represent sounds made in the back of one’s mouth and are almost impossible to distinguish by speechreading (lip reading).  In order to follow a conversation, you have to already know what the subject is.  While your brain might be able to distinguish between “great” and “crate” in context, if you miss too many words, the whole message becomes gibberish.

In the profound hearing loss range, the person understands very little of what is said, or has very poor sound discrimination. Speech sounds are garbled, as if someone is talking with marbles in their mouth or are talking through a bad public address (PA) system. With profound hearing loss, one may be able to hear a very loud clap of thunder, a truck rumbling by, or an airplane overhead, but not be able to identify what the sound is. If people are having much trouble following a conversation in a noisy environment, they may shut down, not participate, or remain quiet and inattentive throughout. If you ask them if they hear you, they might say “yes” because they heard sounds, even though they did not understand what you said.

Medically speaking, deaf means hearing no sound at all.


The ideal answer is to have a joining conference, which is explained in detail in Module F. A joining conference is a private conversation with the guardians or parents of a Scout to find out the needs and strengths of the Scout. Joining conferences should be part of welcoming every new Scout to a unit.  With a joining conference, you should not have to guess if a Scout has issues that may need to be supported. At the joining conference, you may notice the Scout uses hearing aids or wears a cochlear implant processor. Hopefully additional information will be disclosed. Keep in mind, some Scouts may choose to not share the fact they do not hear well.

“What if no one tells me about a hearing loss at the joining conference?”  This does happen. At home, families may not have recognized a hearing reduction. When public schools conduct hearing and vision screenings, the parents may be told about a hearing loss and then choose to keep the information to themselves. Some youth don’t want anyone to know that they struggle with hearing because they don’t want their peers to see them as “different”.  (We will discuss other social effects a little later.)

In the end, you may not know for certain who needs assistance, but remember a hearing issue doesn’t necessarily mean a cognitive issue. Here are a few tips to get you started, which benefit all Scouts. We will list more later on in this module.

  • Speak clearly and directly to all Scouts. This minimizes misunderstanding for everyone.
  • In addition to audible starting signals, use visual starters such as lights, flags, or hand signals simultaneously.
  • Maximize what the Scout can learn from the visual environment. Utilize signage, scripts, manual hand signals, good lighting, expressive speaking, video captioning, sticky notes, or cue cards.


Some youth will be open about having a hearing reduction while others will not.  For that matter, some adults conceal their hearing struggles too. This is a common theme for “invisible” special needs where youth know they have a difficulty, but it isn’t obvious to others.  Youth have a profound need to belong and be accepted as they are, but at the same time they tend to downplay or hide the ways that they are different.  We see this not only with hearing reduction but also with learning differences and other speech and language disabilities.

Even with the best efforts to hide a hearing reduction, when you don’t understand everything that is expected from you, you are going to make mistakes. When peers don’t understand, mistakes can make you look less capable and reliable than you really are. Such Scouts may avoid becoming leaders, be left at the edges of social circles, or lose motivation to advance in rank. Others may see them as close-minded, stubborn, or forgetful when that isn’t true. The false impressions can have a deep impact on self-esteem.  Isolation and lack of assertiveness are risks for many with hearing reduction. They also may be afraid to trust their own judgment.

On the other hand, some Scouts may try to compensate for the hearing reduction by taking the lead, feeling that if they are in the lead, they will know what is happening around them and what everyone should be doing.  While this is an interesting approach, there is a social hazard of alienating the other Scouts. Scouts that are compensating this way may be seen as stubborn, bossy, and unwilling to listen, when in fact they are trying to save face and be more like everyone else. Social skills may suffer.

Bluffing is another way of trying to save face. Everyone wants to fit in, so those with hearing reduction may go along with the crowd, laughing and pretending they get all of the jokes.  This only works until they caught in a bind when they do not really know what the joke is about, or can’t discuss things that were just mentioned. It is common to have someone say “yes” to something they don’t actually want to do. They may imitate the behavior of others because they think they are imitating someone who is following directions.

This is an area where a Scout leader can make a positive impact.  The single best thing to do is pay attention to the values of the Scout Law and focus on creating a healthy unit culture.  Every person has both strengths and weaknesses, and if you focus on encouraging all of your Scouts to be helpful, kind, courteous, friendly, and loyal to one another, everyone benefits.  There is much more on this topic in Module C.  In addition to creating a good unit culture, you can engage Scouts with a hearing reduction more directly, demonstrating that you care and making sure that their needs are accommodated, without making too much fuss.  You can seek opportunities for these Scouts to play to their strengths and have successful outcomes to balance out the struggles. Like with any other Scout, if you see signs that a Scout is avoiding experiences that he or she used to like, it’s time to plan a follow-up conference with the Scout and/or the family to compare notes and seek out ideas about how to achieve rather than stagnate.

You want to pay attention to the larger context of what is going on at a Scout event.  A Scout who only “hears” the bare essentials is missing out on the community life of your unit.  How would your life be if no one told you jokes, no one shared stories with you, or no one took time to tell you how and why they care about you? Everyone in your unit needs to be sensitized to share the mundane with the Scout and not just the important things.


There is general information about building empathy in Module C and Module F.  A good way to replicate a hearing reduction experience for Scouters and Scouts is to have them put cotton or ear plugs in their ears, and for a more “profound” experience, add ear protectors on top.  To do justice to the experience, try doing this for several hours at one time to capture the emotions, frustrations, and isolation you may feel.

Any number of Scout games and activities can be turned into “no talking allowed” versions.  The challenge of playing touch football or pitching camp with only signs and gestures can be a fun challenge for everyone and help everyone understand what it is like to have your ability to communicate slowed down. Team building challenges can take on a whole new meaning.  These activities work best when they become a routine part of the unit activities.


There is more variety in how people who are deaf and have profound hearing reduction communicate than most people would imagine.   The most significant difference is whether the person was always deaf or became deaf after learning to talk.  People who are deaf before they learn to talk have to learn to express themselves in some form of manual sign language or with fingerspelling, which becomes their first language. You are probably aware of American Sign Language (ASL) [5]. ASL is composed of positions and gestures made with the hands, body and facial expressions, to convey abstract concepts as with any spoken language. Being its own language, ASL has a distinct grammatical structure that is not like English.

Being limited to manual sign language limits the pool of people that deaf people can talk to directly, and forces them to use interpreters or technology to interact outside their close community of friends and family. They have a harder time integrating themselves into peer groups when others do not know how to sign.  Most deaf people have to interact with the wider community using written language.  But understand that a person who reads, writes, and also signs is actually bilingual.

Things are different when a person learns to talk before losing hearing.  The road to adequate communication is not as complex. The Oral Method of communication focuses on speechreading (lip reading) and making the most of a person’s remaining hearing to understand speech. The idea behind this method is that this allows a person who is deaf or hard of hearing to communicate more effectively with hearing individuals.

These people typically use spoken language from muscle memory as the primary way of expressing themselves.  It may be hard to build new vocabulary in spoken language because so many English words are pronounced in ways that violate phonetic rules (like using “ph” for the /f/ sound).  Another thing that can happen over the years is that the person’s speech can become less precise, contain less inflection, or become monotone.  Without the constant feedback of hearing what you sound like, you may not enunciate all the sounds you don’t hear anymore.

Over 90% of deaf and hard of hearing children have hearing parents.  Some families who use spoken language may want to teach their children how to speak even though the children cannot hear. Children with profound hearing loss can be enrolled in programs that teach them to speak rather than rely on sign language. Since they cannot hear their own voices, they may practice by feeling the vibrations and watching the mouth formations of their teachers and others. This is a slow and steady process and it takes time to develop the skill well enough that others can understand the child.

Some families prefer Total Communication (TC) methods. The idea behind TC is for a person who is deaf or hard of hearing to use any and all communication methods that facilitate language acquisition. This system can include any combination of speech, fingerspelling, manual signs, gestures, speechreading, and amplifying sounds to use residual hearing.  One distinction of this approach is that hand signs typically use English word order rather than ASL grammar.

There are different approaches to living and learning when you have no or nearly no hearing.  Just like in bilingual families, some families may converse in one language (for example, sign language) at home and use the other (spoken language) elsewhere. Others will use the adopted language (spoken language) at home, and some will use a combination where some members express themselves in one language while receiving in the other. Imagine a conversation where the hard of hearing person speaks out loud and a family member responds in sign language.

Don’t assume that people who cannot hear are able to lip read (speechread) or sign.  Many individuals never learn to speechread. It is not easy, takes time to develop, and not everyone who tries can master it. Even so, it is not an accurate way to hear. Speechreading can be compared to water skiing. Some people have a knack for it and get up on the water and go, while others just never get the hang of it. The same can be said of signing. Fortunately, many high schools now offer ASL as a foreign language course. Encourage your older Scouts to pursue this if it is available to them.


Hearing aids are a tool for those with hearing reduction but who are not deaf.  The basic idea of a hearing aid is to detect sound with a microphone, amplify the sound, and then send sound through a speaker into the ear canal.  While this seems simple enough, hearing aid users are often frustrated with them.  If you are hard of hearing at certain frequencies, amplifying all the sound doesn’t help much because the sounds you need are still soft compared to the sounds that get in the way of understanding.  Audiologists can Bluetooth newer hearing aids to personal smartphones to help the user adjust the sound and volume to their needs in any given situation. Hearing aids may not be practical, considering the wear and tear a child can create, and the replacement cost if they are lost. Many younger children do not have smartphones and in this case, the audiologist will need to adjust the hearing aids from time to time.

This matters in the Scouting program because a Scout that has hearing aids may not want to wear them all the time because they become uncomfortable.  The Scout may also need to take the hearing aids out to protect them from water during swimming, showering, or extra sweaty activities.  The Scout may also take them out to sleep.


A cochlear implant is a small, complex electronic device that can help to provide a sense of sound to a person who is deaf or severely hard of hearing. Cochlear implants bypass damaged portions of the ear and directly stimulate the auditory nerve. An implant does not restore normal hearing. Instead, it gives a deaf person a useful representation of sounds in the environment and helps with understanding speech. A cochlear implant is very different from a hearing aid.  

Current devices have two parts.  One part is implanted under the skin and sends electrical signals to the cochlea to replace the signals that the small internal hairs normally create.  The other part is the processor that sits outside the body.  It may look like a hearing aid, with a short wire leading to a flat circular transmitter, or it may look like a small square box.  Regardless of type, the outside transmitter is held in contact with magnets on top of the skin over the receiver of the implant. The signals from the outside processor to the implant are passed across the skin magnetically.

Like with hearing aids, the outside processor is not waterproof and needs to come off for aquatic activities and showering.  It may also be uncomfortable to sleep on the side where the implant is positioned.  There will be times when a Scout needs to take off the outside processor of the cochlear implant. Be aware that when the outside processor is disconnected, the person with an implant is functionally deaf.


Smartphone technology is dramatically changing life for deaf and hard of hearing people and is allowing more open communication between non-hearing and hearing people than ever before. As a Scout leader, you may have to reconsider what restrictions you place on “tech” at Scout events when you serve Scouts with a hearing reduction. Everyone may need to be able to send and receive texts on an outing in order to include such a Scout.

The simple texting function has reduced the dependence on sign language as a means of communication.  A Scout with a hearing reduction can communicate with both hearing and non-hearing friends by text.  This is helpful because a Scout can have a bigger circle of friends, not just those that know how to sign.

Voice-to-text features on smartphones are rapidly displacing the need for telecommunications relay services.  A person can speak into the phone, and the phone can translate the speech into readable text in real time.  Text-to-voice capability allows non-verbal deaf people to express themselves in a hearing world.  Older, less portable, special purpose voice synthesizers and voice recognition devices are falling out of use.

A smartphone with a set of earbuds has all the parts of a basic hearing aid.  There are apps available to take advantage of this capability.  While the apps lack the frequency sophistication of good quality hearing aids, they can be a practical substitute for milder hearing loss or as a backup if someone loses or forgets their hearing aids.

Many hearing aids and cochlear implants have Bluetooth technology, which allows them to connect directly and wirelessly as headsets to smartphones, televisions, music players and other devices.  By eliminating the need to acoustically couple the sound, the user can get a clearer sound to the brain.

An FM system is a wireless hearing assistance device that can be used with or without hearing aids or cochlear implants. This system consists of a transmitter and a receiver, similar to microphone headsets you have seen used by performers or religious worship leaders. There can be several receivers at one time.  This system works well in large group settings, meetings, or in noisy environments.  The microphone transmitter is placed on the speaker and the user wears a receiver. The system can be equated to a personal “PA” system, where sound is heard directly by the user. During large group events in an auditorium, for example, the transmitter can be hooked up directly to a sound system and transmitted to the individual providing greater clarity of speech/sound and a reduction in background noise. During hikes, tours, and outdoor events, the leader wears the transmitter and the users wear receivers. Even if the leader is at a distance (up to 200 feet) the users will be able to hear directions, explanations, and warnings. The leader does not have to shout to be heard.  The downside of an FM system is that it is one-way communication, so it doesn’t allow a user to get the leader’s attention or ask questions over the system.


Any device a Scout uses to hear or communicate will also need to be recharged.  This is not a huge problem, but it needs to be accounted for on every outing.  Many people carry smartphones into the backcountry to use as cameras and GPS receivers, so they are used to thinking about extra batteries, power banks, or solar chargers.  However, voice-to-text and text-to-voice applications can be dependent on a cell phone signal and therefore may demand more power than expected.

You do need to consider what would happen if all the devices became unusable on a backcountry outing. If your Scout depends on sign language to communicate you will want to make sure you have a hearing person in the group that can translate for her. At a minimum, a pad of waterproof paper and a pencil need to be in your gear.


We want Scouts with hearing reductions to be able to be part of every experience that their units can offer.  At the same time, we need to manage risk to allow Scouts to do things that seem scary to them, without it actually being dangerous.  For example, we want to give them a chance to rock climb, but we make sure that they have all the right rigging and harnesses to do that safely.  We also rely on appropriate training of youth and adults in order to manage risk.

We need to make sure that each Scout is properly trained for the adventure activity that is being planned.  For a Scout that does not hear well, this can mean some extra effort to make sure everything important is clearly understood. Plan to have visual aids for the safety information.  It is a good idea to physically act out emergency procedures at the same time you are explaining them.  Also, take time for the Scouts to practice the actions they may need to take to recover from a problem.  For example, practice getting back into a whitewater raft, but in calm water. Another example would be simulating rappelling by walking backward across the ground.  It may take someone with hearing difficulties longer to learn what they need to, so be sure to allocate enough time for training and practice before starting a high-adventure activity.

Even with good training, the outdoor adventure environment is not tame or controlled.  This is especially true with boating activities. Even when sleeping, weather can change and create a situation where action must be taken.  Aquatics and sleeping are also times when hearing aids, cochlear implants, and other electronic devices are not usable.  Plan ahead to find a reliable way to give warnings or alert people to danger, that doesn’t rely on speech or technology.


Individual and Small Group Activities – There are several basic things you can do to make communication easier for a Scout with hearing loss.  These tips are for smaller gatherings where you are not using microphones and the room is lit.

  • When you speak to the Scout, face the Scout directly to reduce sound distortion and let him or her watch your lips while you are speaking. Keep your chin up rather than looking down at the page when you talk.
  • Be sure you have the Scout’s attention before speaking. First, call out the Scout’s name. If the Scout does not respond to the spoken name, use a visual signal next.  It helps to have visual signals understood in advance.  Next, use a gentle touch on the shoulder. Remember any signal will become annoying if it is overused.
  • If the Scout Sign isn’t working, try getting everyone’s attention by flashing the lights on and off.
  • Reduce background noise by moving learning activities outdoors, or away from other activities.
  • When possible, get people to take turns when speaking and not talk over each other. Ask participants raise their hand before speaking and wait until they are called upon. A “talking feather” or “talking stick” can be a good strategy because it visually alerts everyone to who they should be watching and listening to.
  • Make sure the room is well lit for Scouts that use speechreading or signing.
  • Find a non-verbal way to tell the Scout the topic of discussion and to signal changes in topic.  This is especially helpful for someone who relies on speechreading.
  • Use visual aids and written instructions when you can. Don’t forget you can draw in the dirt.
  • Encourage the Scout to sit where he or she needs to be to best understand the speaker.  This location will be different for every Scout and may not be where you think it is.  If the Scout doesn’t seem to be understanding the speaker, you can make suggestions about repositioning. Remember, many young people want to sit where their friends are, so get all of them to move as a group to where they need to.
  • Repeat any questions or comments that are made by someone that the Scout doesn’t see. This is a good habit to get into and it benefits everyone.
  • If you are using videos, be sure they are captioned.  If the videos or clips are not captioned provide a script for the Scout or find another way to teach.  Consider using videos or clips from the Described and Captioned Media Program, (www.dcmp.org).
  • Ask the Scout to repeat back information so that you can make sure he or she understood. This is better than being asked “Can you hear me?” or “Do you understand?” over and over.
  • Teach in a smaller group.
  • Try changing how you speak – consider speaking at a slower pace, pausing a bit between phrases and sentences, using a higher or lower pitch, emphasizing key words, or using visual cues.
  • Clear crisp speech works better than exaggerating your speech by talking loudly, spacing out words, or exaggerating the pronunciation of words.
  • Try rephrasing when a Scout does not seem to understand you. Some words are easier to recognize when speechreading than others.  For example, you could use “correct” instead of “right” or “yes”. Use visuals, point, demonstrate.
  • Trim facial hair around your mouth so your lips can be more easily seen.
  • Use hand signals during games and sporting events.
  • Encourage the Scout to speak (present) in front of others. Ask for his or her ideas.
  • Use handouts for important information/instruction.
  • Make an extra paper copy of your lesson plan or program and give it to the Scout so he can follow along.
  • Have the Scouts sit in a “U” or circle formation, so no one’s back is to the Scout who has hearing issues

Large Audience Events and Campfire Ceremonies – For campfires and large events, where sound systems are being used, or the lighting may be lowered, some more tips are in order:

  • The Scout with a hearing reduction needs to sit near the “stage”, so he or she can see the performers’ faces and catch all of the body language, especially at nighttime or in low light.
  • Ask performers to avoid using sunglasses, fuzzy beards, masks, or hats that hide the face or lips.
  • Give the Scout a written copy of the program, or even better the whole script.  At night or with low lighting, allow him or her to use a small red-light flashlight to look at the program/script during the performance.
  • Make sure the performers are lit from the front and not back-lit.  You can’t watch a face when the face is in shadow.
  • For campfires where there are no stage lights, keep the performers on the far side of the fire from the audience.  Assign responsible people to shine flashlights on the performers to light up the action.
  • Limit background music and noise as much as possible.
  • Lanterns with aluminum foil reflectors can be used as stage lights for campfires. They are particularly helpful when a real fire cannot be used due to burn bans.
  • When the Scout participates in skits and plays, make sure he can see visual cues and has a buddy who will help him keep his place with script lines and stage action.
  • If you are using microphones, pay special attention to how you hold hand microphones.  If you hold it directly in front of your face, the Scout cannot watch your mouth movements.  While many hand microphones are built to brush against the lips, this is a problem for Scouts with hearing difficulties. Clip-on and over-the-ear hands free microphones are a better solution and not especially expensive.
  • See if the facility has FM-broadcast listening devices for the hard of hearing.  These allow a Scout to hear the sound from the microphones without it passing through the auditorium speakers and acoustics (refer to “Smartphones and Other Hearing Tech” section).


Swimming and Boating – The phones, hearing aids, or cochlear implants that the Scout uses most of the time are not practical when swimming, or when in a small boat that can easily overturn. The Scouts need to have some nonverbal signals worked out between them in advance of the activity.  There are several ways to get one’s attention by touching or splashing.  In small boats it may be practical to communicate by tapping on the hull and feeling the tap through the seat.  Tap codes could be used for “go right”, “go left”, “faster”, “slower”, and “stop”.  The hand signals used for cycling could be adapted to boating as well.

Climbing and Rappelling – With these activities, the challenge is that the activity requires both hands most of the time.  Each has a set of verbal commands that are part of the ordinary process.  While a Scout with a hearing reduction can participate as a climber, rappeller, or belayer, an alternative way of signaling will have to be worked out.  It may be possible to create alternative signals using rope tugs or head motions. A Scout that does not speak may still be able to make a noise to get the attention of another person.

Music and Dance – Even those who do not hear or hear well may enjoy music and dance in their own way, by feeling vibrations through the floor or low frequency sound in their chest on with their hands touching a surface.  If dancing, drumming, or singing is something the Scout is interested in, try to provide those opportunities.  Encourage the Scout to sit on the floor or stand near a speaker if that works.  A particular arena where Scouts like this can shine is Order of the Arrow dance and ceremony teams where drums are used.

Races and Derbies – There are a wide variety of track options for Pinewood Derby, Rain Gutter Regatta, Space Derby, and other Scout events. Some have built-in timers and others do not. Furthermore, there are many camporee events where time is used as part of the contest.  We just need to make sure when we plan these events that everyone can get a fair start, whether they can hear (or see) or not.  The simplest substitutes are a starting flag to wave or using a light as a starting signal.


Before closing this module, we need to say a few words about units who serve Scouts who are all deaf. There are some Scouts who prefer to be with other Scouts who are deaf and use sign language.  Hanging around with true peers provides the encouragement for them to thrive and grow. The leadership of a unit of Scouts who are deaf must consider the needs of the group in order to guide them to success.  Ideally, the adult leaders and the Scouts themselves will utilize the same forms of communication.  For these Scouts, certain ways of learning and participating lead to achievement just as Scouts who have hearing. One just needs to be aware of those needs and work within the Scouting structure. Scouts in these units can achieve the same level of accomplishments as their hearing Scouting peers.


We do not want to leave adults who have hearing limitations out of Scouting leadership.  A significant challenge is providing appropriate training opportunities. The Great Salt Lake Area Council (now part of the Crossroads of the West Council) has been a leader in running Wood Badge courses with hearing adaptations.

For more routine training, please be aware that PowerPoint and Google Slides have features that allow real-time captioning of live presentations. This is something that can be easily added to leader training events with a little advance planning. Be aware that sometimes it does take a little practice to operate these features, including having a headset microphone, which is recommended.

Last Revised 7/5/2020

[1] The Boy Scouts of America would like to thank the American Society for Deaf Children (deafchildren.org) for reviewing the contents of this module for accuracy and usefulness.

[2] The editors are aware that in professional circles, speech, hearing, and language disorders are usually grouped together.  In the Inclusion Toolbox, we created a separate module for hearing because the adaptive approaches are meaningfully different than with the other two categories.

[3] In the vast majority of the Inclusion Toolbox, we used conventional person-first language to avoid identifying someone by their disability.  Deaf culture is different.  Many who are deaf think of deafness as a difference and not a disability.  In this module, the editors made exceptions to conventional person-first language in order to honor this difference.  By no means do the editors wish harm or disrespect to any of these persons or groups.

[4] National Institute on Deafness and other Communication Disorders, 2018

[5] While American Sign Language (ASL) is the dominant sign language in the United States, there are many different sign languages used around the world.  Furthermore, sign languages have local slang and dialects just like oral languages have.