What does Deafness and Diversity (DAD) mean?

Deafness and Diversity is a broad term used to describe deaf children that fall into the following two categories:

Deaf with a Disability: any deaf child with one or more disabilities (LD, ADHD, Autism, Emotional/Behavioral Challenges, etc.)

Deaf and ELL: any deaf child whose parents/caretakers speak a language other than English or ASL at home

Venn figure 1 deaf, ell, and sped populations compared
How many deaf children are classified as deaf and diverse? Children who are deaf and diverse constitute over half of our population of learners.

The Gallaudet Research Institute (GRI, 2010) survey estimates that 40-50% of deaf students have a disability. The number of children who are deaf with a disability steadily increases each year the report is published. Data from the GRI national survey (2010) also shows that approximately 47% of deaf children come from homes where Spanish or a language “Other” than English is used in the home.

Students who are English Language Learners (ELLs) constitute the fastest growing population in public schools in North America (National Clearinghouse for English Language Acquisition, 2013). The GRI documents this growth as the number of deaf children whose parents speak a language other than English grew 22.5% from the year 2000 (2.7%) to 2011 (25.2%).

What can we do to address the needs of children who are Deaf and Diverse?

Acknowledge that children who are deaf and diverse are a growing population who require special assessment, placement, and educational placement options to meet their unique needs.

Identify experts (parents, teachers, professionals) who are willing to share success stories when working with children who are deaf and diverse.

Urge researchers to conduct evidence-based studies aimed to determine the best educational strategies for use with children who are deaf and diverse.


Children ages 3-21 with Disabilities in the USA: NCES

Deaf and ELL, Deaf with a Disability, Deaf and Hard of Hearing: GRI

Limited English Proficiency Students: NCES

Limited English Proficiency Students with Disability: ED.gov; U.S. Department of Education.(2009). 28th annual report to Congress on the implementation of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Washington, DC: Office of Special Education Programs.

Zehler, A. M., Fleishchman, H. L., Hopstock, P. J., Stephenson, T. G., Pendzick, M. L., & Sapru, S. (2003). Policy Report: Summary of findings related to LEP and SPED-LEP students. (Contract No. ED-00-CO-0089).