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Fact Sheet on Deafness by World Health Organization (WHO)

What is deafness? What causes it? How does it impact people? What can help? This fact sheet on deafness from WHO addresses these questions.
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WHO Fact Sheet on Deafness

What is deafness? What is the difference between “deaf” and “hard of hearing”? Meanwhile, what can cause hearing loss? How does deafness impact people of different ages? And also, what can help people who are deaf or hard of hearing? In response, the World Health Organization (WHO) provides this fact sheet on deafness.

Medical and Social Perspectives of Deafness

Deaf community members know that deafness isn’t just a physical difference in the ear. It can also be a shared sense of identity. Deafness can result in a shared culture and language. It also can connect people to a proud history of Deaf and hard of hearing pioneers in diverse fields. But people who are new to deafness may misunderstand what it means. Or they may also have stereotypes about deafness. Learning the basics can prevent these misunderstandings and stereotypes. Some deaf and hard of hearing people also want to better understand their own deafness.

“Deaf” vs “Hard of Hearing”

The WHO fact sheet on deafness defines “deaf” to mean, people with little to no hearing. Meanwhile, they say anyone with a mild to severe hearing loss is “hard of hearing”. Deaf communities in different countries may have different opinions about this. For example, in some countries, deaf people say that anyone who can talk on the phone is hard of hearing. Meanwhile, people who cannot hear well enough to talk on the phone are deaf. In this definition, some people with a severe hearing loss are “deaf” not hard of hearing. But in some countries, deaf communities do not separate “deaf” and “hard of hearing”.

Sign Language in the WHO Fact Sheet on Deafness

Meanwhile, the WHO fact sheet mentions sign language as a tool for communication. It also explains that deaf children will benefit from learning sign language.


This web page is accessible for people using screen reading software. But it has some accessibility barriers for some people. For example, some text is very small. Also, some links, forms, and buttons do not have clear labels.

Other Resources in MNIDC

Also learn some myths and facts about hearing loss. Or learn basic information about deafness.

Click here to show & hide the transcript with descriptions


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