Deaf Community Definition Of "D/Deaf" Essay

2072 words - 9 pages

The phrases deaf-mute, deaf and dumb are outdated and no longer acceptable. The majority of deaf individuals have the ability to speak, but choose not to use their voices. It is difficult for them to learn speech when they cannot hear sound, and they simply feel uncomfortable speaking. When we define "deaf", the parameters of the definition should be determined. The audiological definition can be used -- that is, one that focuses on the cause and severity of the hearing loss and whether or not hearing can be used for communication purposes. Generally, the term "deaf" refers to those who are unable to hear well enough to rely on their hearing and use it as a means of processing information. Or a cultural definition may be used, as Carol Padden and Tom Humphries, Deaf in America: Voices from a Culture (1988) clarify: "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 have inherited their sign language, use it as a primary means of communication among them, 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." A culture is generally considered distinct when it has its own unique language, values, behavioral norms, arts, educational institutions, political and social structures, organizations, and "peripherals" (such as ethnic clothing, rituals, or special/unusual possessions). The deaf have both a community and a culture. While the idea that the deaf have a culture and community is news to many hearing people, it has existed for a long time. The Deaf community may be defined as a group of persons who share a common means of communication (sign language) that provides the basis of group cohesion and identity. They share a common language (i.e., sign language) and a common culture. Their primary means of relating to the world is visual and they share a language that is visually received and gesturally produced. The Deaf culture has characteristics identifiable to that of other subcultures or ethnic groups. It is born out of shared experiences (life in residential schools) and a shared language, American Sign Language. Members of the Deaf Community do not consider themselves to be disabled. They see themselves as a cultural group bonded together by a common language. Members of this community don't want be hearing! If given a choice the vast majority would choose to remain deaf! That doesn't mean that there aren't deaf people in the U.S. who consider themselves disabled. There are indeed many, many such individuals, but they are...

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