Diversity within the deaf or hard of hearing population: Wisdom from seeing the whole


Issues of diversity and multiculturalism within the US population typically address concerns regarding between-group differences. That is, members of groups distinguished by race, ethnicity, alternative lifestyle, or educational exceptionality become typified by their common characteristic. For example, it is common to refer to children identified as having hearing loss as "the hearing impaired" or "the Deaf". This terminology may lead service providers to make assumptions about standard practice as to how to assist these children and their families. However, to deliver appropriate services to qualifying children and their families, service providers must be sophisticated at distinguishing within-group differences, and view each individual case's needs relative to a picture of "the whole". This article examines the within-group differences that exist in children who belong to a group whose common characteristic is some degree of hearing loss. A rationale is provided for viewing service options for these children and their families as parts of a whole. A discussion of the implications of this perspective on service delivery is provided.


Communication Sciences and Disorders

Document Type





Deaf, Diversity, Hearing impaired

Publication Date


Journal Title

Early Child Development and Care