Deaf Culture Essay

2164 words - 9 pages

In our country we meet people from all levels of society, whether it is the rich or the poor, or in this case, the deaf or the hearing, and in each level of society we see a unique culture. Deaf individuals, just as hearing persons, have their own culture. It may be difficult for the average speaking individual to understand, but the deaf population is becoming a world of its own, with their own culture, society, language and technologies.Culture is defined according to Webster's dictionary as "The behaviors and beliefs characteristic of a particular social, ethnic or age group" (488). Culture is also defined as "The customs, arts and conveniences of a nation or people at a given time" (Random 209). Human society is keenly aware of ethnic cultures such as the Hispanic culture, African-American culture, and even the Asian culture. However, society seldom acknowledges the non-ethnic cultures unless they are in the political or media spot light. One of those non-ethnic cultures that have been overlooked by the media and political circuits is the deaf culture.The deaf society populates about ten percent of the world, meaning that in America alone there are approximately ten million deaf people. With this great number of deaf people in society, we must try to understand the concepts of deaf cultures. To define the Deaf culture, we must consult the deaf community. Even in America, we have our own customs, which divide and distinguish us as individuals. To fully enjoy and understand the deaf culture, a person would have to participate in the deaf customs and social events. The pride and unity that found through out the deaf community resembles a close-knit family. "Just as other cultural groups such as; Hispanics and Asians share a collective heritage, people who are deaf feel that deafness is part of their cultural heritage. They take pride in that heritage and have a passionate sense of cultural unity and fellowship" (Rensberger 29).To understand the deaf community, we must first understand the ways that deafness can come upon a person, and just what deafness is. Deafness is defined in the World Book Encyclopedia as "the inability to hear"("Deafness"). Deafness can occur at anyplace, any time, to anyone. A person can be born deaf as the result of a birth defect, or they can simply leave an ear infection left untreated ("Deafness"). There are endless possibilities as to why a person may become deaf, but in the deaf community they set themselves apart from those losing their hearing as a result of a physical ailment. "Deaf people distinguish themselves from those losing their hearing because of illness, traumas, or age; although, these people share the conditions of not hearing, they don't have access to the knowledge, beliefs , and practices that make up the Deaf Culture of deaf people" ( Padden 2). People can be born into the deaf community or become part of it through knowing many other deaf people.Deaf individuals are brought together not only by...

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