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date: 29 November 2022

Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Peoplelocked

Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Peoplelocked

  • Martha A. SheridanMartha A. SheridanA social work educator since 1986, Dr. Martha Sheridan joined the graduate faculty at Gallaudet University in 1997 bringing extensive clinical experience in community mental health, school social work, and private practice. Her administrative experience includes clinical supervision, program development, management, evaluation and consultation and serving as Gallaudet’s MSW Program Director. Dr. Sheridan is engaged in ongoing research on the developmental experiences of deaf and hard of hearing people across the lifecycle. Publications include Inner lives of deaf children: Interviews and analysis (2001) and Deaf Adolescents: Inner lives and lifeworld development (2008) and other topics including social work assessment and practice with deaf people, deaf women, deaf parenting with hearing children, adolescents with ushers syndrome, suicide prevention, and existential transcendence. Her extensive lectures include these topics and family issues, spirituality in social work practice, aging, domestic violence, health and mental health services. She has received several federal, state and private grants including Gallaudet’s U.S. Department of Education school social training grant. She served as a councilor on the Council on Social Work Education's Council on Practice Methods and Specializations and the Council on Disability and People with Disabilities and is the recipient of numerous mental health service awards.
  •  and Barbara J. WhiteBarbara J. WhiteDr. Barbara White has been a member of the Gallaudet University Department of Social Work faculty since 1983, where she has taught courses in both the undergraduate and graduate programs. She served as Chair of the Department, community boards and university committees such as the Crisis Leadership Team. She began her social work career as Assistant Director of the Mental Health Center for Deaf and Hard of Hearing People at Family Service Foundation in Maryland, and was instrumental in establishing the Maryland mental health services for deaf and hard of hearing people. Her research and community interests include foster care and adoption of deaf children, macro social work, international social work, disaster relief, and mental health services to deaf and hard of hearing people. Dr. White has led study abroad courses to Guatemala and Costa Rica and assisted deaf evacuees with a Red Cross disaster mental health response team after Hurricane Katrina. Dr. White received the Gallaudet University Distinguished Faculty of the Year Award and the Outstanding Graduate Faculty Award in 2009, and the Dedicated Faculty Member Award by the Division of Student Affairs in 2012.


Effective social work practice with deaf and hard-of-hearing people requires a unique, and diverse, collection of knowledge, values, skills, and ethical considerations. Salient issues among this population are language, communication, and educational choices, interpreting, assistive devices, cochlear implants, genetics, culture, and access to community resources. Competencies at micro, mezzo, and macro levels with a deaf or hard-of-hearing population include knowledge of the psychosocial and developmental aspects of hearing loss, fluency in the national sign language, and an understanding of deaf cultural values and norms. In the United States, the use of American Sign Language (ASL) is the single most distinguishing factor that identifies deaf people as a linguistic minority group. This entry presents an overview of the practice competencies and intervention approaches that should be considered in working with deaf and hard-of-hearing people, their families, communities, and organizations. It introduces the knowledge base, diversity in community and cultural orientations, social constructions, and international perspectives, current research and best practices, interdisciplinary connections, trends, challenges, and implications for effective social work practice with this population. An integrative strengths-based transactional paradigm is suggested.


  • Aging and Older Adults
  • Children and Adolescents
  • Disabilities
  • Policy and Advocacy
  • Populations and Practice Settings

Updated in this version

Updated the section on services to infants, children, and adults to include latest legislature. Citations and bibliography expanded and updated.

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