The word deaf is most often associated with two meanings:
- Notated as deaf with a lowercase d, this refers to either one or many of whom deafness is predominantly an audiological experience. This means someone who is partially or wholly lacking hearing, either when they were born, through pernicious disease early in life, or later in life. The term refers to the idea in the strictest sense: the condition and state of being deaf, nothing more.
- The other definition is referred to as Deaf with a capital D - it is any person or persons who "identifies him/herself as a member of the Deaf community, and other members accept that person as a part of the community." Many Deaf perceive their community akin to other language minority communities, and share a sense of Deaf Culture.