The Canadian Association of the Deaf (CAD) uses the standard rule of “one in ten percent” (or, one percent of the population), with strong disclaimers.
This proportion is generally thought to include the culturally Deaf — those born with no hearing who use American Sign Language as their method of communication, among other characteristics; as well as the “late-deafened” — those who lose their hearing later in life, but who learned and used verbal / written communication throughout the majority of their lives. The late-deafened may or may not adopt American Sign Language as a method of communication after losing all or most of their hearing and verbal communication is no longer possible.
This statistic is based on the application of U.S. data on the Canadian population. By this association, assuming Canada’s population in the year 2012 to be approximately 33.5 million, of those, roughly one percent, or 350,000 persons, would be culturally and linguistically Deaf.
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A landmark ruling occurred in Canada in 1997 when the Supreme Court ruled that Deaf persons are to be provided equal access to public services. Sign language interpretation is to be provided where it is needed for effective communication in the delivery of services. This decision covers all services such as education, training, health care and social services.
A Federal Court of Canada ruling in 2006 declared that where a deaf or hard of hearing person receives services or participates in programs administered by the government of Canada, sign language interpreters are to be provided. In these circumstances, the government of Canada is responsible for the cost of access.
Duty to Accommodate: This refers to a section of the Canadian Human Rights Act which places an obligation on employers to take appropriate steps to eliminate discrimination against employees, prospective employees or clients from any practice that has or can have an adverse effect on individuals with disabilities. The purpose of this Act is to put into effect the principle that every individual should have access to equal opportunities.
The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms makes provision that any person who does not understand or speak the language in which legal proceedings are conducted or who is deaf has the right to the assistance of an interpreter. The Charter makes clear that every individual in Canada is to be considered equal.
Accommodation is not a courtesy — it’s the law.
What are the “proper” terms and definitions to be used in regard to deafness?
The Deaf, deafened and hard of hearing are all very distinct groups.
deaf [small ‘d’]: a term used to refer to a person with little or no functional hearing. It may also be used to refer to those who are audiologically deaf but do not identify with the Deaf community.
Deaf [big ‘D’]: is used as a sociological term referring to those individuals who are audiologically deaf or hard of hearing who identify with and consider themselves a part of the culture, society and language of deaf people based on the use of sign language.
deafened (also known as late-deafened): is used to refer to those people who lose all their hearing later in life and have been raised in a culture of spoken, written communication.
D/deaf: is used as a collective noun to refer to both those who identify with Deaf culture and those who do not.
oral deaf: a deaf person whose preferred mode of communication is verbal and auditory. An oral deaf person who uses both speech and ASL may be considered a member of the Deaf community.
hard of hearing: a term used to refer to a person whose hearing loss ranges from mild to profound and whose usual means of communication is speech.
hearing impaired: a term most often used by the medical community but not accepted by the Deaf community as it emphasizes the disability or problem.