Author: Eleanor T. Robertson, Ph.D. Director, School Psychology, Trinity University

Many individuals with hearing impairments consider themselves to be a part of the Deaf Community and adopt attitudes and practices unique to this group. These characteristics define a specific deaf culture that dictates many aspects of the individual’s life. Support of deaf social and political organizations and participation in deaf clubs, deaf church services, deaf sports teams, and deaf group activities are important (Harris & Vanzandt, 1997).


  • If the student’s parents are deaf, it is more likely that the child will be familiar with this community and its culture. You will probably need to utilize a sign interpreter and it may also be important that you have contacts in the community to whom you can refer if needs outside the educational environment become apparent.
  • Individuals within the Deaf Community prefer face-to-face meetings because so much communication relies on total body language. This insistence on in-person interactions should not be interpreted as being overly demanding or narcissistic since this is normative in the culture (Olkin, 1999).
  • An important tenet of the Deaf culture is that individuals with hearing impairments are not viewed as “disabled” or “impaired” but rather members of a minority Deaf culture with its own language and community (Harris & Vanzandt, 1997).

Individuals who identify with the Deaf Community will want referrals to deaf church groups, sports clubs, and other groups for the deaf, so it is important that you familiarize yourself with these organizations. It would be a good idea to visit at least one of the activities sponsored by the Deaf Community and establish contacts.