The Deaf Community in Germany

Deaf Caucasian couple signing at dinner table
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The deaf community in Germany is vibrant and filled with organizations and resources that you can use. From German sign language to publications and websites for the hearing impaired, let's explore the deaf experience in Germany.

Saying Deaf in German

If you use an online translator to find the German word for "deaf" you might get taub as a result. However, this can be offensive and even considered vulgar in the German deaf community. It is used more often to condescend someone as in "What, are you deaf?"

Instead, use the word gehoerlos (or gehörlos) to refer to a deaf person. For hard-of-hearing, you can also use schwehörig (or schwehoerig).

Sign Language

German Sign Language (Deutsche Gebärdensprache), has only fairly recently been recognized as a legitimate language in Germany.

Germany has companies such as the Signum publishing house, which publishes sign language learning material. Another publisher, Karin Kestner, offers sign language books and software as well.

There is also an Institute of German Sign Language and Communication of the Deaf, based at Hamburg University. The institute works on sign language dictionaries and linguistics and they also produce learning software.

If you're looking for German sign language classes and teachers, you'll find plenty of resources at The website includes many other resources, including information for cochlear implants, entertainment, and more.

Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Groups

Deutscher Gehorlosen-BundA primary deaf organization is the German Deaf Association and it is the successor to the Federation of Gehorlosen Germany (REGEDE). The organization is over 80 years old and has 26 regional chapters.

The German Deaf Association serves as an umbrella organization for other organizations. These include the Federation of Catholic Deaf Germany, an association of sign language teachers, and an association of interpreters. The GDA website also has general deafness information, advice for hearing people, and sign language information.

Deutsche GesellschaftAnother primary organization is the German Society of the Hearing Impaired. It is also an umbrella organization that promotes the well-being of deaf and hard-of-hearing people and helps out a number of professional associations.

Deutscher SchwerhorigenbundA large self-help organization is the German Schwerhörigenbund (DSB), which dates back to 1901. There are regional and local chapters all over Germany.

Their website is quite comprehensive and includes original poems by deaf Germans, original columns, book reviews, information about hearing aids, and much more.

Cochlear Implant Users in Germany - Cochlear implant users have the German Cochlear Implant Society (Deutsche Cochlear Implant Gesellschaft) to turn to. It is a member of the European Association of Cochlear Implant Users.

Interpreters in Germany - The main interpreting organization in Germany is the Federal Association of German Sign Language Interpreters (BGSD). The BGSD site has a list of regional federations and information on interpreter training and certification.

Deaf Sports in Germany - There is a German Deaf Sports Federation. It has deaf sports news, a calendar, and information on a variety of activities, including a deaf youth sports camp.

Deaf Media

Germany has a few deaf-related publications:

  • "Das Zeichen" is published by the Institute of German Sign Language and Communication of the Deaf. It covers a variety of topics, including history, education, life, and reviews. 
  • Hörgeschädigten Pädagogik is aimed at hard of hearing people and is published by the professional association of deaf teachers (Berufsverband Deutscher Hearing Impaired Pedagogy, or BDH).
  • Tauben Schlag is a nice website filled with news, stories, and other information geared toward the hearing impaired.

Deaf Kids

German parents of deaf and hard of hearing children can participate in Bundesselternverband gehorloser Kinder. This organization is similar to the American Society for Deaf Children.

Gallaudet Students

Gallaudet University has a study abroad program. Students can spend a few weeks in any number of countries, including Germany, and it is available for a variety of majors.

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