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General Terms Related to Deafness

American Sign Language (ASL): Refers to a visual-gesturing language that has its own rules of grammar distinct from English. It is used primarily by culturally Deaf people.

Assisted Listening Devices: Refers to hard-wired or wireless transmitting / receiving devices that transmit sound from the microphone directly to the listener, minimizing the negative effects of distance, noise, and reverberation on clarity. The devices transmit sound directly to the ear, but also can employ “teleloop” attachment accessed by the telephone switch in some hearing aids. Used by hard of hearing people.

Laurent Clerc:  Brought education to America’s deaf children and a rich and expressive language of signs.

Cued Speech: Refers to a visual communication system which, in English, uses eight hand shapes in four locations in combination with the natural mouth movements of speech to identify each distinctive speech sound. Used by some oral deaf people.

deaf: a general term and an audiological condition of nothearing.

Deaf: When spelled with a capital D, Deaf refers to people who are born deaf or became deaf prelingually (before acquiring spoken language), and use American Sign Language (ASL) for communication. These persons may also referred to as culturally Deaf and/or as members of the Deaf community.

Deaf-blind: Refers to people who have significant, but not necessarily total, loss of both vision and hearing (dual sensory loss). Deaf-blind people may be culturally Deaf, oral deaf, late deafened, or hard of hearing, and their mode of communication varies accordingly. The dual sensory loss may be due to illness, injury, age-related losses or genetically-caused condition.

Deaf President Now (DPN):In 1988, Gallaudet University was the site of a student-led protest that today is known as Deaf President Now, or simply DPN. The protestors were fighting for the selection of a deaf person to run the university. When this didn’t happen, the supporters of DPN led a remarkably focused, non-violent and effective protest, which resulted in I. King Jordan becoming the first Deaf president of Gallaudet. In addition, DPN raised the nation’s conciousness of the rights and abilities of deaf and hard of hearing people.

Fingerspelling:  When there is not a sign for a specific word Deaf people spell out the letter of the word with their fingers.

Gallaudet University:  The world’s only university with programs designed specifically for Deaf and hard of hearing students. President Abraham Lincoln signed the charter to establish a national college for deaf students in 1864, and the university was run by Edward Miner Gallaudet. Gallaudet University is named in honor of Edward’s father, Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet, a pioneer in Deaf education in the United States, who was led by Laurent Clerc (see above).

Hard of Hearing: Refers to people who are able to understand speech through the ear with the help of amplified sound through public address systems, hearing aids and/or other assistive listening devices. Persons may be born hard of hearing, or acquire the condition later in life.

Interpreter:  An interpreter is a person who signs to Deaf people what is being said.  The interpreter also voices what the Deaf person is signing.

Late-deafened: Refers to people who became deaf post-lingually (after learning to speak), and were raised in the hearing community. Most late-deafened people do not learn sign language.

Name sign:  Name signs are given in the Deaf community to identify individuals without having to always fingerspell their name. There are two types of name signs:

Arbitrary: a name sign using the first letter of the person’s name in a location and movement typically governed by linguistic rules. These name signs typically have no hidden meaning and are subject to individual judgment.

Descriptive: a name sign derived from distinctive physical features, or personality trait, i.e., a description of someone’s hairstyle, a mole on the cheek, large eyes, blushing cheeks, etc.

Name signs should be given only by a Deaf person; hearing people should not invent their own name signs. Name signs are given to non-Deaf people almost as a rite of passage. Giving of name signs was a tradition started by Deaf people and, therefore, they carry on the tradition.

National Technical Institute for the Deaf (NTID): The National Technical Institute for the Deaf is the world’s first and largest technological college for students who are deaf or hard of hearing. As one of eight colleges within Rochester Institute of Technology, NTID provides academic programs; access and support services; and diverse educational, social, and personal development opportunities for students.

Oral deaf: This term refers to people who are born deaf or become deaf prelingually, but are taught to speak and do not typically use American Sign Language for communication.

PAH:  “Pah” is a signed word meaning “finally,” or “at last.”  This word is thought to have started during the “Deaf President Now” march in 1988.

Sign Language Interpreting: Refers to translating speech into American Sign Language (ASL) or English-based sign language and sign into speech. Translators need to be highly skilled in this art to be effectively understood.

Speech Reading: Refers to interpreting lip and facial movements in order to understand speech (only partially effective); also called “lip reading.” Used by oral deaf and some late deafened and hard of hearing people.

TDD: a modern term for Telephone Device for the Deaf.

TTY: a traditional term for telecommunication device for the deaf (Teletype).

GA: an abbreviation for “Go Ahead” used on TTYs.

SK: an abbreviation for “Stop Keying” on TTYs to end conversations; like “bye”

Deaf Acronyms

AAAD: American Athletic Association of the Deaf

ADA: American Disabilities Act

AGBAD: Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf

ALDA: Association of Late-Deafened Adults

ASDC: American Society of Deaf Children

ASL: American Sign Language

ASLDA: American Sign Language Teachers Association

CODA: Children of Deaf Adults

COED: Commission on Education for the Deaf

DOD: Deaf (child) of Deaf (parents)

DPN: Deaf President Now (see above description)

DWW: Deaf World Web (Internet)

GUAA: Gallaudet University Alumni Association

HoH: Hard of Hearing

NAD: National Association of the Deaf

NBDA: National Black Deaf Advocates

NCI: National Captioning Institute for the Deaf

NTD: National Theatre of the Deaf

NTID: National Technical Institute for the Deaf (see above description)

RID: Registry of Interpreter of the Deaf

SEE: Signing Exact English

TDD: Telephone Device for the Deaf (see above description)

TRS: Telephone Relay Service

TTY: Teletypewriter (see above description)

WFD: World Federation of the Deaf