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What is the difference between deaf and Deaf?

You will see references to deaf and to Deaf all throughout our site. It is not a typing error, so what is the difference?

The word deaf is used to describe or identify anyone who has a severe hearing problem. Sometimes it is used to refer to people who are severely hard of hearing too.

We use Deaf with a capital D to refer to people who have been deaf all their lives, or since before they started to learn to talk. They are pre-lingually deaf. It is an important distinction, because Deaf people tend to communicate in sign language as their first language. For most Deaf people English is a second language, and understanding complicated messages in English can be a problem.

There is a very strong and close Deaf community with its own culture and sense of identity, based on a shared language.

Our work is mainly with and for Deaf people, and that’s why we are called SignHealth.

How healthy are Deaf people?

Sick Of It is SignHealth’s ground-breaking report uncovering the health disparity Deaf people face in the UK. Published in 2014, the report has influenced policy and changed practices in the NHS to improve communication and reduce barriers.

Report: Sick Of It

Why SignHealth?

The majority of our 130 staff are Deaf people and our award winning board has been recognised for its diversity and inclusivity. Together we are working to improve health and wellbeing for everyone.

Deaf people continue to face barriers in mainstream health and social care services. Since 1986 we have been providing services to the Deaf community and campaigning for more Deaf-awareness and better access.  

two women walking and signing