Understanding Deafhood: In search of its meanings

Annelies Kusters*, Maartje De Meulder

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Citations (Scopus)


THE AUTHORS argue that Deafhood (a term coined by Dr. Paddy Ladd) is an open-ended concept with an essentialist core. They describe how deaf people who have attended their Deafhood lectures and workshops have perceived different aspects of the Deafhood concept, and compare the basic tenets of Deafhood and criticisms on Deafhood to theories and criticisms on feminist essentialisms. The authors find that the vagueness and wideness of the Deafhood concept is one of its strengths, though they also find that it is in some respects problematic to combine and unite ontology and liberation theory in one concept. They further suggest that the ontological aspects of Deafhood need to be foregrounded. The question of essentialism inherent in the Deafhood concept is also briefly discussed with regard to hearing people, the use of spoken language, and the use of amplification technology and cochlear implants.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)428-438
Number of pages11
JournalAmerican Annals of the Deaf
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • Deafhood
  • Essentialism
  • Feminism
  • Liberation
  • Ontology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Education


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