term which was used historically to identify a person who was either deaf using a sign language or both deaf and could not speak

Deaf-mute is a term which refers to deaf people who cannot speak a language. They cannot speak by mouth. Or, they may choose not to speak because of the attention unusual voices attract.

They communicate using sign language.[1]

Today some prefer simply "deaf".[2] However, it may be important for others to know whether a deaf person can speak, even imperfectly.

There is a complete range of intelligence in deaf-mutes. However, the limitations of their language ability may have an effect on their understanding of the external world. Many live communally amongst others who are expert in using their particular sign language. But sign languages differ greatly between countries, and may also differ inside a country.

See alsoEdit


  1. Mindess, Anna 2006. Reading between the signs: intercultural communication for sign language interpreters.
  2. Moore, Matthew S. & Levitan, Linda 2003. For hearing people only, answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about the deaf community, its culture, and the "deaf reality". Rochester, New York: Deaf Life Press.