Background Information about Families with Deaf Children

Across the United States, over 35 million people report having some difficulty hearing. Of that number, approximately 600,000 report being "deaf". According to the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, about 2 to 3 out of every 1,000 children in the United States are born with a detectable level of hearing loss in one or both ears.1

Deafness can be defined in a number of ways, including by tested hearing thresholds, by experience, and by cultural identity. Some people view deafness as a disability and some view it not as a disability but as an identity with a rich culture and history. Deafness can be caused by genetics, pregnancy complications, illness, injury, and other means. More than 90% of deaf children are born to hearing parents.2

There are many different philosophies and opinions about raising deaf children. Cochlear implants have given some deaf children the possibility of developing hearing, but there are many considerations and strong feelings associated with cochlear implants and how they play out for individuals and the effect they have on the deaf community as a whole.

Similarly, there are many different approaches to educating deaf children, including in American Sign Language, Total Communication, Auditory/Oral, Cued Speech, and others. For more information about this and for other deaf resources, please visit the American Society for Deaf Children at