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Deaf Culture (3)
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Deaf Culture

by  Tim Jones
 04/29/2003

        The Deaf Community has a unique culture, viewed as being different by a surrounding population that doesn't take the time to learn and understand that it may not be so different. This culture is identifiable to that of other cultures. Just like other cultures, the deaf culture comes about by shared experiences and  a shared language. Besides a shared language, being  deaf has brought about many identifiable characteristics of a culture, such as having their own regional, state and national organizations, schools, athletic events, community picnics, theatrical performances, and religious congregations, just to name a few.

      One of the biggest identities of the deaf culture is its language, American Sign Language. American Sign Language is a language that relies on vision to gain information. The use of hand motions, facial expressions, and body movements is the basis of American Sign Language. Carol Padden stated in an article she wrote for ASLinfo.com, "The essential link to Deaf Culture among the American deaf community is American Sign Language. This community shares a common sense of pride in their culture and language. Their exists a rich heritage and pride in the ability to overcome adversity as individuals and a group." (Padden, ASLinfo.com p1)

       As mentioned in the quote by Carol Padden in the last paragraph, the deaf community is very prideful. The deaf culture doesn't view their impairment as a disability. As stated on the website DeafFriendFinder.com, "Deafness is not a disability but rather a different way of being."(deaffriendfinder.com/culture P.1) This is the deaf culture's belief. "Deaf people view themselves as a linguistic and cultural minority, not as a disability group." (www.seattle diversity works P.1)

       The hearing population might view the deaf community as being sensitive. Since they don't view themselves as disabled, the deaf often get offended when called "hearing impaired", "deaf-mute", or "deaf and dumb". "Hearing impaired" may be seen as a politically correct way of labeling a person as deaf. The deaf culture believes that that is exactly what "hearing impaired" is doing, labeling them as something they can't do. This is why the deaf get offended.

        " Hearing impaired -- A term much preferred by hearing people, largely because they view it as being politically correct. In the mainstream society, to baldly state one's disability (e.g. deaf, blind, etc.) is somewhat rude and impolite. To their way of thinking, it is far better to soften the harsh reality by using the word "impaired" along with "visual", "hearing", and so on. "Hearing impaired" is a well meaning word that is much resented by deaf and hard of hearing people." (www.nad.org)

       The deaf do have a community and culture all their own. They are people, just like you and me, but having to live a different lifestyle because of an impairment. Their culture deserves to be recognized just as any culture does. They deserve the respect that anyone else does. Just because they are impaired doesn't mean that they are not not capable of overcoming adversity if just given a chance.

         "...Words and labels can have a profound effect on people. Deaf and hard of hearing people are sensitive as to how they are referred, because they have experienced being put down and disparaged by other people. They have seen their intelligence, their abilities, and their skills questioned simply because they are deaf or hard of hearing. Show your respect for deaf and hard of hearing people by refusing to use those outdated and offensive terms." (Info to Go/National Association of the Deaf; www.nad.org P.2) 

Works Cited

        Info to Go. National Association of the Deaf. www.nad.org   P.2

        Free Fact Sheet,Deaf Culture Part 1. www.seattlediversityworks.com P.1

        Deaf culture. DeafFriendFinder.com/culture

        Padden,Carol. Deaf Culture. www.aslinfo.com p.1


Discussion:

In a message dated 8/3/2003 5:19:09 PM Central Daylight Time, kcdrummond@_____.com writes:

Dear Bill:
In reading the material in your Culture 3 page I noticed something that has been bothering me since I read it.

The page by Tim Jones 4/29/2003 says

<<The deaf do have a community and culture all their own. They are people, just like you and me, but having to live a different lifestyle because of an impairment. Their culture deserves to be recognized just as any culture does. They deserve the respect that anyone else does. Just because they are impaired doesn't mean that they are not not capable of overcoming adversity if just given a chance.>>

This paragraph appeared right after Mr. Jones' acknowledgment of the fact that the term "hearing impaired" is offensive to the deaf. Perhaps Mr. Jones would do well to change the wording of this paragraph to include the word D/deaf instead of impairment. I am thinking this is just an oversight on his part as is typical of us "hearies". lol
Cheryl


 


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