Book: "Deaf in
America" (an excerpt)
Deaf in America by Carol Padden and Tom Humphries. Harvard College,
1995. p. 2
Before beginning our journey through the imagery
and patterns of meaning that constitute Deaf people's lives, we must
identify the community of "Deaf " people with which we are concerned.
Following a convention proposed by James Woodward
( 1972), we use the lowercase deaf when referring to the audiological
condition of not hearing, and the uppercase Deaf when referring to a
particular group of deaf people who share a language - American Sign
Language (ASL) - and a culture.
The members of this group reside in the United
States and Canada, have inherited their sign language, use it as a primary
means of communication among themselves, and hold a set of beliefs about
themselves and their connection to the larger society. We distinguish them
from, for example, those who find themselves losing their hearing because of
illness, trauma or age; although these people share the condition of not
hearing, they do not have access to the knowledge, beliefs, and practices
that make up the culture of Deaf people.
. . . .this knowledge of Deaf people is not simply a camaraderie with
others who have a similar physical condition, but is, like many other
cultures in the traditional sense of the term, historically created and
actively transmitted across generations.
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