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Deaf, Oral Deaf, Deafened or Hard of Hearing


People who have hearing loss may be deaf, oral deaf, deafened or hard of hearing. People who are profoundly deaf may identify themselves as culturally deaf or oral deaf.

People who are profoundly deaf may identify themselves as culturally deaf or oral deaf.

“Oral deaf” identifies people who are born deaf or became deaf before learning to speak, but are taught to speak and may not typically use American Sign Language.

“Deafened” identifies people who experience slow or sudden loss of hearing in adulthood. They may use speech with visual cues such as captioning or computerized note-taking, speech-reading or sign language.

“Hard of hearing” identifies people who use their residual hearing (hearing that remains) and speech to communicate. They may supplement communication by speech-reading, hearing aids, sign language and/or communication devices.

Types of assistance used: hearing aid, paper and pen, personal amplification device (e.g., Pocket Talker), phone amplifier, relay service, Teletypewriter (TTY), hearing ear dog, support person such as a sign language interpreter.


Attract the person’s attention before speaking with a gentle touch on the shoulder or with a gentle wave of your hand.

  • Don’t shout.
  • Move to a well-lit area where the person can see your face, as some people read lips.
  • If necessary, ask if another method of communicating would be easier (i.e. a pen and paper).
  • Look at, speak, and directly address the person, not the interpreter or support person.
  • Be clear and precise when giving directions.
  • Don’t assume that the person knows sign language or reads lips.

For more tips on providing accessible customer service, please see our TDSB Training Guide on the AODA (193K 10/29/2019)

If you have any questions please feel free to email -