National Research Center for Parents with Disabilities

Strategies and Resources for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Parents: A Scoping Review

Family members using sign language to talk to each other.


  • DHH: Deaf and hard-of-hearing
  • Gray literature: Work that is unpublished or is distributed noncommercially, such as working papers and government reports.

Key Findings

Very little information exists about raising children as a Deaf or hard-of-hearing parent, since most available articles and resources are geared toward hearing parents of DHH children, rather than DHH parents. DHH parents are already socially marginalized and have difficulty finding accessible information. These disparities sharply reduce opportunities for DHH parents to learn how to raise their children.

We do, however, know the following facts about DHH parents:

  • DHH parents don’t always get the support they need. Healthcare and other service settings may lack interpreters, and professionals working with DHH parents and their families may not have the background to fully understand parents’ needs.
  • DHH parents usually have good relationships with their children. For example, DHH parents have been found to be less assertive with their children than hearing parents, providing more opportunities to share decision-making.
  • DHH children of both DHH and hearing parents develop similarly; these similarities extend to language and motor development. Unfortunately, there is little information about the development of DHH parents’ hearing children.


Between 500,000 and 1 million deaf and hard-of-hearing people consider themselves part of the Deaf community and primarily use American Sign Language (National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, 2016). Unfortunately, DHH people face discrimination in healthcare, education, and other settings; in turn, this discrimination can lead to adverse social and health outcomes (Mitra et al., 2017; McKee, Moreland, Atcherson, & Zazove, 2015). For example, information provided by health and human services providers is often inaccessible, which means many DHH people miss important information—including information about parenting (Hauser et al., 2010). This may explain why DHH mothers often experience adverse pregnancy outcomes (Mitra, Akobirshoev, McKee, & Iezzoni, 2016; Mitra et al., 2020). Parents have a tremendous influence on a child’s health and well-being, so accurate and accessible information is essential (Schor, 2003).

We conducted a scoping review with two aims:

  1. Summarizing available information about DHH parents’ needs
  2. Identifying resources that DHH parents use to help them take care of their families


Academic sources noted that DHH parents faced social, healthcare, and educational obstacles, including a lack of accessible information about raising children (Ryan & Kushalnager, 2018; Preston & Lou, 1997). These sources also included several findings about the children of DHH parents; for example, one study concluded that hearing children with DHH parents have more influence over family decisions than hearing children with hearing parents (Rienzi, 1990). Several studies highlighted the lack of accessible information and resources for DHH parents (Mallory et al. 2019; Singleton & Tittle, 2000; Hadjikakou et al., 2009).

There were, however, some limitations to these studies: two had contradictory findings regarding both DHH and hearing children’s self-esteem and views about themselves, whether their parents were hearing or DHH (Crowe, 2003; Chan & Lui, 1990). Furthermore, each study used different measures, making it difficult to draw conclusions across studies.

Beyond the academic sources, most of the 11 gray-literature sources focused on hearing parents of DHH children, rather than DHH parents; however, some of the articles suggested that inaccessibility, including a lack of interpreters or cultural competency in healthcare and education, marginalized DHH parents (Singleton & Tittle 2000; Hadjikakou et al., 2009; Buchino, 1993). Moreover, the researchers were unable to find information about hard-of-hearing parents who did not use sign language.

Other findings described the relationship between DHH parents and their children, as well as their children’s development. Importantly, one general finding was that DHH parents typically have a positive relationship with their children, which challenges biases against parents with disabilities and assumptions about their ability to raise children (Buchino, 1993). One dissertation found that Deaf parents incorporate more physical touch with their children compared to hearing parents (Silvia, 2012). Other sources found that DHH parents when compared to hearing parents, were less assertive when communicating with their children and that they encouraged compromise and shared decision-making (Rienzi, 1990; Jones & Dumas, 1996). Other studies found no notable difference between DHH and hearing parents regarding outcomes for their children, including language and motor development (Lieberman, Volding, & Winnick, 2004; Mitchell & Karchmer, 2004; Roos, Cramér-Wolrath, & Falkman, 2016). Notably, there were some sources that provided helpful resources for DHH parents. For example, one website had a video of ten parents sharing their experiences and strategies in sign language (Expression Australia n.d). There was also a blog titled “Deaf Mama,” which contained helpful resources for DHH parents (Brackett, 2018). Critically, none of the sources from either the academic or the gray-literature searches revealed a repository for parenting resources for DHH parents. A repository for parenting information would make it easier for DHH parents to identify helpful resources. This is important due to the marginalization that DHH parents encounter in healthcare and other service settings.


  1. DHH parents need accessible information about how to raise their children, especially since DHH parents are often marginalized and miss informal opportunities to learn about parenting.
  2. Programs and resources should be fully accessible to DHH parents.
  3. More research is needed to create resources to support DHH parents.


This study had several limitations:

  1. Inconsistent study designs in the 14 academic sources prevented direct comparisons across these studies.
  2. Sites and programs found in the gray-literature searches change constantly, and some are tailored to the user. Some results may no longer be available, and others may have been missed.


This study reviewed existing information about the needs of DHH parents, and the resources available to them. The researchers conducted two searches. The first search included academic publications that met specified guidelines for scoping reviews. Fourteen articles met these criteria. Because the researchers found few sources meeting the guidelines, the second search consisted of gray literature—unpublished work or noncommercially distributed research—including working papers and government reports. The research team used Google to find 11 sources published between January 1990 and June 2018.

This brief was adapted by Luca Swinford, Miriam Heyman, and Finn Gardiner from Cuculick, Ayers, Naturale, & McKee (n.d.). Parenting Strategies and Resources for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Parents: A Scoping Review.


  1. Brackett, K. (2018). ‘The Deaf Mama’ helps parents find accessible products, inspires self-advocacy. Hearing Like Me. Retrieved from
  2. Buchino, M. (1993). Perceptions of the oldest hearing child of deaf parents. On interpreting, communication, feelings, and role reversal. American Annals of the Deaf, 138(1), 40-45.
  3. Chan, L. & Lui, B. (1990). Self-concept among hearing Chinese children of deaf parents. American Annals of the Deaf, 135(4), 299-305.
  4. Crowe, T. (2003). Self-esteem scores among deaf college students: an examination of gender and parents' hearing status and signing ability. Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education, 8(2), 199-206.
  5. Expression Australia. (2020). “Deaf Parenting Stories.” Retrieved from
  6. Hadjikakou, K., Christodoulou, D., Hadjidemetri, E., Konidari, M., & Nicolaou, N. (2009). The experiences of Cypriot hearing adults with deaf parents in family, school, and society. Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education, 14(4), 486-502.
  7. Hauser, P., O'Hearn, A., McKee, M., Steider, A., & Thew, D. (2010). Deaf epistemology: deafhood and deafness. American Annals of the Deaf, 154(5), 486-492; discussion 493-486.
  8. Jones E., Dumas R. (1996). Deaf and hearing parents’ interactions with eldest hearing children. American Annals of the Deaf, 141(4), 278-283.
  9. Lieberman, L., Volding, L., Winnick, J. (2004). Comparing motor development of deaf children of deaf parents and deaf children of hearing parents. American Annals of the Deaf, 149(3), 281-289.
  10. Mallory, B., Schein, J., & Zingle, H. (2019). Parenting resources of deaf parents with hearing children. Journal of the American Deafness and Rehabilitation Association, 25(3).
  11. McKee, M., Moreland, C., Atcherson, S., & Zazove, P. (2015). Hearing loss: communicating with the patient who is deaf or hard of hearing. FP Essentials, 434, 24‐28.
  12. Mitchell, R. & Karchmer, M. (2004). When parents are deaf versus hard of hearing: patterns of sign use and school placement of deaf and hard-of-hearing children. Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education, 9(2), 133-152.
  13. Mitra, M., Akobirshoev, I., McKee, M., & Iezzoni, L. (2016). Birth outcomes among U.S. women with hearing loss. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 51(6), 865-873.
  14. Mitra, M., Akobirshoev, I., Moring, N., et al. (2017). Access to and satisfaction with prenatal care among pregnant women with physical disabilities: findings from a national survey. Journal of Women’s Health (Larchmont), 26(12), 1356-1363.
  15. Mitra, M., McKee, M., Akobirshoev, I., et al. (2020). Pregnancy, birth, and infant outcomes among women who are deaf or hard of hearing. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 58(3), 418–426.
  16. National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. (2016). Quick statistics about hearing. Retrieved from
  17. Preston, P. & Lou, M. (1997). Final Report: Adapting Through the Looking Glass' Intervention Model for Deaf Parents and their Children. Retrieved from Published 1997.
  18. Rienzi, B. (1990). Influence and adaptability in families with Deaf parents and hearing children. American Annals of the Deaf, 135(5), 402-408.
  19. Roos, C., Cramér-Wolrath, E., & Falkman, K. (2016). Intersubjective interaction between Deaf parents/Deaf infants during the infant’s first 18 months. Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education, 21(1),11-22.
  20. Ryan, C., Kushalnagar, P. (2018). Towards health equity: Deaf adults’ engagement in social e-health activities and e-communication with health care providers. Journal of Health Communication, 23(9), 836-841.
  21. Schor, E., American Academy of Pediatrics Task Force on the Family. (2003). Family pediatrics: report of the task force on the family. Pediatrics, 111(6 Pt 2), 1541-1571.
  22. Silvia G. (2012). Emotional availability and touch among deaf and hearing mother-infant dyads. [Dissertation]. Missoula, MT: University of Montana. Published 2012.
  23. Singleton, J. & Tittle, M. (2000). Deaf parents and their hearing children. Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education, 5(3), 221-236.