About Us

The National Association of the Deaf (NAD) is the nation’s premier civil rights organization of, by and for deaf and hard of hearing individuals in the United States of America. Established in 1880, the NAD was shaped by deaf leaders who believed in the right of the American deaf community to use sign language, to congregate on issues important to them, and to have its interests represented at the national level. These beliefs remain true to this day, with American Sign Language as a core value. The advocacy scope of the NAD is broad, covering a lifetime and impacting future generations in the areas of early intervention, education, employment, health care, technology, telecommunications, youth leadership, and more – improving the lives of millions of deaf and hard of hearing Americans. The NAD also carries out its federal advocacy work through coalition efforts with specialized national deaf and hard of hearing organizations, as well as coalitions representing national cross-disability organizations. On the international front, the NAD represents the United States of America to the World Federation of the Deaf (WFD), an international human rights organization. Individual and organizational membership makes it possible for the NAD to ensure that the collective interests of the American deaf and hard of hearing community are seen and represented among our nation’s policy makers and opinion leaders at the federal level. The NAD is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization supported by the generosity of individual and organizational donors, including corporations and foundations.

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The mission of the National Association of the Deaf is to preserve, protect and promote the civil, human and linguistic rights of deaf and hard of hearing people in the United States of America.


The vision of the NAD is that the language, culture, and heritage of deaf and hard of hearing Americans will be acknowledged and respected in the pursuit of life, liberty, and equality.



The National Association of the Deaf embraces core, legal, and community values, as follows:

Core Values

  • Language. We value the acquisition, usage, and preservation of American Sign Language.
  • Culture. We value the right of deaf and hard of hearing Americans to share similar beliefs, sense of belonging, and experiences as a signing community.

Legal Values

  • Civil Rights. We believe in equality, dignity, and justice for all deaf and hard of hearing Americans.
  • Human Rights. We believe that acquisition and use of American Sign Language is an essential human right.
  • Linguistic Rights. We believe that American Sign Language must be preserved, protected, and promoted.

Community Values

  • Diversity. We value deaf and hard of hearing Americans with diverse perspectives, experiences, and abilities. We are committed to the elimination of audism, linguicism, racism, and other forms of discrimination.
  • People. We value advocates and allies as the builders of the American deaf community.


Diversity Statement

The National Association of the Deaf embraces diversity and inclusiveness as core values in achieving its mission. It is the philosophy of the NAD that diversity encompasses a wide range of human abilities and perspectives.*

The NAD is committed to building and maintaining an inclusive environment where differences of opinions, beliefs, and values are sought, listened to, respected, and valued. Through inclusiveness, the NAD is committed to expanded membership, participation, and leadership that reflect the diversity of the American deaf community.

The NAD also pledges to enhance its policies and practices so that these adhere to the highest standards of diversity and inclusiveness, and to work closely with its state and organizational affiliates to further this commitment.

(*including but not limited to language, culture, race, gender, age, sexual orientation, ethnicity, religion, national origin, disability, and socioeconomic status)