Traditionally Underserved Deaf People

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Dew, D. (Ed.). (1999). Serving individuals who are low-functioning deaf. Report from the study group:  25th Institute on Rehabilitation Issues. Washington, D.C.: The George Washington University Regional Rehabilitation Continuing Education Program.

The report describes the population of people who used to be referred to as “low functioning deaf” (LFD) and provides population estimates. The five main characteristics are inadequate communication skills; vocational deficiencies; deficiencies in behavioral, emotional, and social adjustment; independent living skills deficiencies; and educational and transitional deficiencies. Population estimates are provided along with estimates of prevalence rates for additional disabilities. The authors write that “the defining characteristic of individuals who are LFD is that they have inadequate communication skills because of a secondary disability (mental illness, brain injury) or of deprivation in social development or education. Persons who are born deaf with no other disability and who have not been given the opportunity to develop language become low functioning. The lack of formal language results in developmental deficits that cannot be fully resolved by education or training. Poor to no language skills creates a barrier to the acquisition of other critical academic and social skills required for employment and independent living,” (p. 11). Most of the report focuses on challenges providing vocational rehabilitation services to these persons.