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Deaf Culture (2)
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[True or False]  "You become a member of the Deaf Community simply by losing your hearing?"

In regards to a culture test she recently took, a student (Karen) wrote:

<<My sister and her friend, who are both hoh [hard of hearing], answered TRUE when I asked them how they'd answer that question. I answered, "FALSE." My reason for answering false was because it seems to me that someone has to make an effort to be involved in the community...although they're still "in" the community, aren't they? What is the reason?">>

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Karen,

Let me suggest a comparison: Suppose I buy myself a fast car and sit in it. Am I now a member of the "racing community?"

Your answer "false" was correct (in my opinion). Let's analyze it a bit and see what we can come up with.

We need to look at "acculturation."

According to my American Heritage Dictionary:

Acculturation: "The process by which the culture of a particular society is instilled in a human being..."

A person who has recently lost his (or her) hearing has not yet gone  through the acculturation process. You become a member of the Deaf Community when the culture of the Deaf Community has been instilled within you. The day after a person "loses his hearing," he still has the culture of a hearing person. He tends to be angry or depressed about the "loss." He doesn't know ASL yet. He doesn't yet subscribe to Deaf newsletters or have bookmarks for "vlogs." His TV doesn't have close captioning (if it is an older model) or it is not turned on.  He is still a member of a Hearing social club or church congregation. He doesn't have the relay number memorized or at least on speed dial. He doesn't own (dedicated) video phone (or in the "old days" a "TTY.")  Most if not all of his friends are Hearing. Given a choice he would take his hearing back instantly. Even though his ears are deaf--he is still hearing in his mind.

Such a person is not (yet) a member of the Deaf Community. He is a member of the Hearing World who happens to not be able to hear.  Given enough time and opportunity he might very well become Deaf in mind and in heart as well as in his ears.  He can change. He can learn ASL. He can form new friendships with Deaf people. He can tie into the community. He might even marry a Deaf lady and give birth to deaf children. Thirty years later, if offered a magic pill that "cures" deafness--there is a strong chance he would turn it down.


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