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Deafness - What Is Deafness?


Updated June 10, 2014

Teenager Signing with Others

A Teenager Uses Sign Language

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Definition: Deafness is a disorder affecting the ability to hear. Deafness includes a complete inability to hear. Under the IDEA, the diagnostic category of deafness does not include people with limited hearing. People with limited hearing would be served under the category of hearing impairment under the IDEA.

The National Association of the Deaf (NAD) defines deafness as the "audiological condition of not hearing." The NAD includes people with very limited hearing who cannot rely upon it for comfortable communication.

Deafness can be caused by:

Deaf students communicate using sign language, lip reading, written communication, sign writing, oral language, or any combination of these methods depending on their own unique abilities and preferences.

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