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Deaf identity

Photo: Getting to know other deaf young people can help you to feel more confident in your deaf identity.

There’s no right or wrong way to be deaf. How you identify as a deaf person is unique to you. Working out your deaf identity can help you feel proud of who you are and to take ownership of your preferred communication style.

Some deaf young people grow up feeling like being deaf just means frequent trips to audiology, meetings with Teachers of the Deaf or being taken out of class for extra support. You might feel like professionals try to ‘fix’ situations where your deafness means things are difficult and different. This might mean that you don’t have a positive deaf identity because you associate your deafness with things that are hard work or boring. 

In fact, there are lots of positive things that come from being deaf! For example, being able to remove your hearing technology might mean you can sleep better through loud noises, like your partner snoring or a big storm. Being able to lip-read might mean you find it easier to have a conversation in a noisy room. And having the opportunity to be part of the deaf community allows you to meet lots of other deaf people! 

Being confident in your choice of communication style and the technology you use can help you feel more confident in your deaf identity. Although when you were younger your parents might have made decisions about the language you used or the hearing technology you wore, as an adult, you have the right to make those decisions for yourself. Whether you use British Sign Language, Sign Supported English, lip-reading or speech, or wear one, two or no hearing devices, you have the right to choose what suits you best, and be confident in your decision. You can still be friends with other deaf people who choose differently and respect each other’s decisions.

Remember, everybody is different and many people have lots of different things in their lives that are important to them and their identity. Some people love football and identify as a football fan. Some people may be a member of the LGBTQ community because they identify as gay. There are many different heritages, backgrounds and cultures all round the world which might contribute to someone’s identity. Identifying as a deaf or Deaf person might be really important to you. Everybody has the right to feel confident in who they are.