Research with d/Deaf people

Alys Young Completed   2010


There are many ways to ‘be deaf’. Individuals might be equally ‘deaf’ in audiological terms, yet their experiences of the world and their identities are very different. Each has a different relationship with ‘not hearing’ and a different understanding of what it is to ‘be deaf’. In conventional terms this diversity is acknowledged, and the ways in which deafness might be physiological condition and/or identity, through the use of lower case ‘d’ and upper case ‘D’: lower case ‘d’ is generally used to refer to the audiological condition of not hearing and is mostly applied to those who use spoken language; upper case ‘D’ is used to mark those who use sign languages such as British Sign Language (BSL) and are members of the Deaf community.


This review aimed to explore the implications of how deafness is understood and experienced for the practice of research in general, and social care research in particular. It also aimed to analyse the challenges and threats to good quality research with d/Deaf people, consider innovative research practices and adaptations to methods in this context, and discuss ethical practice in research with and about d/Deaf people.


This review addresses:

  • key background knowledge concerning the diversity of what it is to be d/Deaf including the essentially contested nature of the term ‘deaf’ and its implications;
  • how the special or additional considerations surrounding what it is to be d/Deaf influence research design (including what happens when these are ignored);
  • specific issues of innovative or adaptive research practice in research with d/Deaf people or in d/Deaf contexts; and
  • ethical considerations in carrying out research with d/Deaf people.
Research with d/Deaf people
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