Hidden in Plain Sight: What You Need to Know about Deaf Peoples

Defining and identifying groups of people can be tricky. For better or worse, our natural tendency is to look to someone’s outward appearance for clues about their culture or country of origin.

For instance, it can be fairly easy to look at someone and surmise that they likely belong to a South Asian country, or possibly have roots in a Latin American culture. But that rule isn’t hard and fast, nor should it be. And that’s because there’s a massive population of people—360 million of them—who generally look like others from their country of origin, yet don’t identify with them at all: the Deaf.

If researchers group people together based on language and culture, and they often do, then for all intents and purposes, the Deaf comprise their own group of people, separate from the ethnic culture to which they belong. This can make mission work particularly difficult for Christians working to reach the Deaf, because you can’t simply arrive in any given area and quickly identify them. They’re there though, hidden among the hearing, who likely look and dress the same way.

Introducing Deaf Peoples

There’s much to learn about the worldwide Deaf community. As with any group of people, stereotypes or misconceptions swirl around their identity. This makes it difficult to truly know the Deaf, much less minister among them.

The video above addresses five common misunderstandings about the Deaf. Identifying these will help you grow in your understanding of how God designed them so you can better share the gospel among those who have not yet received it.

Check out the infographic below, as well, for insights into what makes the Deaf distinct peoples. For additional information, visit imb.org/deaf.


Rachel Cohen is a content editor for imb.org. She lives with her family in South Asia.

Liam Mark is a videographer and media specialist for IMB. He lives with his family in Southeast Asia.