Deafness is a partial or complete loss of hearing that causes a person to be unable to understand speech and recognize environmental sounds even using a hearing aid. The medical condition of deafness is considered a disability, affecting from 3 to 10 of every 1,000 people in the United States. Language is the area of life most impacted by deafness. As famously observed by Helen Keller, who was both blind and deaf, deafness separates one from people because it precludes access to spoken language. In the minority Deaf community, where sign language is the primary language, deafness is viewed as a difference in the human experience that, although isolating from mainstream culture, is not a disability in need of a cure. This entry first ...

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