American Sign Language (ASL)

 ASL University | Bookstore | Catalog | Dictionary | Lessons | Resources | Syllabi | Library

Deaf Culture (7)

Culture 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 |
Also see: Study Guide


In a message dated 1/14/2006 11:53:06 P.M. Pacific Standard Time, calluna@ writes:

The way you describe it, culturally Deaf people tend
to exchange a *lot* more information, early in making each other's
acquaintance, than hearing English-speakers do.  So I would imagine that
hearing people learning sign tend to be more reticent than their Deaf
counterparts, often not offering the kind of 'locating' information -
family, history, schooling, etc. - which would be considered normal or
polite among Deaf acquaintances.  So...what kind of impression does that
tend to make on the Deaf person?  Does someone who doesn't volunteer
expected information seem shy?  Arrogant?  Bumbling?  I can imagine the
mismatch, and I can imagine some plausible reactions on the part of the
hearing person ("Why is s/he telling me all this?" "How nosey!" etc.), but
I don't know what to imagine the other side of the impressions would be.

I, for instance, don't usually talk about my family.  Will that be rude or

Again, I do understand about your having a life outside of answering
questions from strangers.  No rush. :)


Deaf people tend to share their backgrounds during introductions or shortly after because there is a strong chance that they have common acquaintances and thus can "catch up on" the doings of their old friends by exchanging information with the new friend.

When Deaf meet Deaf it is different than when Deaf meet Hearing.  Hearing people often lack connections to the Deaf community other than "interest."

If you (as a hearing person) don't talk about your family or educational background much when you meet a Deaf person it is no big deal.  Why? Because we recognize you are a Hearing person and so there is no compelling reason for us to want to find out what school you went to because it probably wasn't a school that we would recognize.  There are thousands and thousands of Hearing schools, but only a few dozen residential schools for the Deaf.

As a Hearing person, something you should bring up when meeting Deaf people is your motivation for learning sign language.  This doesn't have to be a big thing.  We are just curious if you have a Deaf aunt or sibling that we might have already met or that might be on our list of friends.  If all of your relatives are Hearing and have no connection to the Deaf community there is no point in telling us about them (until much, much later in the relationship).
Dr. Bill

Dr. Bill's new iPhone "Fingerspelling Practice" app is now available!   GET IT HERE!  

NEW!  Online "ASL Training Center!"  (Premium Subscription Version of ASLU)  ** CHECK IT OUT **

Also available: "" (a mirror of less traffic, fast access)  ** VISIT NOW **

Want to help support Lifeprint / ASLU?  It's easy!     

You can learn sign language online at American Sign Language University
hosted by Dr. William Vicars