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Building positive deaf identity

Photo: There's no right or wrong way of being deaf.

“Deafness is not an illness. Don't apologise for deafness.” 

Carmelo attended our Happy Futures training for parents

Deaf children need to be aware of their deafness and feel empowered, confident and capable of dealing with some of the everyday challenges they might face. Most hearing people have little or no experience of deafness, which can make the deaf people they meet feel isolated. The way that parents, carers, relatives, friends, professionals and even total strangers respond to your deaf child will have an impact on your child’s self-esteem, sense of identity and how they feel about themselves. 

Regular opportunities to meet with other deaf children and deaf adult role models can help your child to develop positive self-identity. Joining a local support group can offer this. 

A deaf child with good mental health and emotional wellbeing:

  • feels good about themselves and has positive self-esteem
  • has an appropriate level of independence and feels able to influence the world around them
  • is confident in trying new things
  • has positive and warm relationships with others
  • is resilient and able to bounce back from setbacks and move on from negative experiences
  • has the language and communication skills to be able to express and understand emotions, and the emotional health and wellbeing of themselves and others
  • acknowledges their deafness and is confident in dealing with any challenges they may face
  • never apologises for being deaf.

Deaf children should have the opportunity to develop strategies to manage the impact of their deafness without feeling the need to apologise for it. Make sure your child knows that they can speak to you about how they feel. To learn how you can use communication to encourage positive development in your child, read our guide Communicating With Your Deaf Child.