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Chasing the Mythical Ten Percent: Parental Hearing Status of Deaf and Hard of Hearing Students in the United States
Abstract

This article investigates the basis for the frequently reported statement that ten percent of deaf persons are born to families with one or more deaf parents. The prevalence of deaf children born to deaf parents (deaf-of-deaf) is important because it is often cited when describing linguistic and educational advantages, along with social and cultural differences, associated with deaf children born to deaf parents compared to deaf children of hearing parents. This analysis provides a current estimate for the distribution of parental hearing status among deaf and hard of hearing students in United States using data from the Annual Survey of Deaf and Hard of Hearing Children and Youth (1999–2000). This is the first national estimate that fully utilizes the distinction between children having deaf parents and hard of hearing parents, as well as hearing parents. The authors propose that the key demographic to report, other than that the overwhelming majority of deaf and hard of hearing students have hearing parents, is whether the child has one or two deaf parents. The annual survey findings indicate that less than five percent of deaf and hard of hearing students receiving special education are known to have at least one deaf parent, which is less than half of the presumed ten percent. Reasons for the difference between the present and previous estimates are suggested.