Labels are commonly used to describe a person or an object. Relative to identity, labels typically have the function of naming social groups with which individuals may be identified. Labels prevail because of the human need to belong to specific social groups and to categorize other individuals as part of groups. Labeled social groups essentially are stereotypical representations of individuals who have connected with these groups. The meanings of these labels typically vary in level of inclusiveness, content, and type. This entry explains how labels have served to categorize deaf people in the minds of society, all too often with negative connotations. How we evaluate the relative importance of each label is part of the dynamic process of conceptualizing identity.

Labels applied to deaf people may ...

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