Classifications of Deafness By Age

Classifications of Deafness By Age

By Marta Belsky and Brenda Cartwright
Tuesday, November 8, 2022

WHEN someone becomes deaf can be just as important a question as HOW they become deaf. There are different types of deafness classifications based on when the person becomes deaf, including:

The person is either born deaf or becomes deaf.

  • Congenitally deaf is a person who is born deaf.
  • Adventitiously deaf is a person who becomes deaf.

There are two classifications of deafness if the person is adventitiously deaf.

  • Pre-lingual is a person who becomes deaf by the age of 3 years old.
  • Post-lingual is a person who becomes deaf after the age of 3 years old.

There is an additional classification if the person is post-lingual and became deaf later in life.

  • A late deafened adult is a person who becomes deaf after age 19.

As you can see, the amount of time the person was exposed to sound and spoken language before becoming deaf is factored into these categories.

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About the Authors

Marta Belsky Marta Belsky is Deaf and a third generation ASL user. She has been teaching ASL for 30 years and enjoys sharing her native language with new users. Marta is on the Lansing Community College Interpreter Training Program Advisory Board and has also been a board member for the Michigan Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf and the Michigan Chapter of American Sign Language Teachers Association.

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Brenda CartwrightBrenda Cartwright is a seasoned interpreter, a master teacher, well known presenter, and author of several best selling sign language and interpreting textbooks from the RID Press. For 35 years Brenda was the Chair of the Sign Language Interpreter Program at Lansing Community College in Lansing, Michigan.

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