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Deaf Culture History Essay

2157 words - 9 pages

The deaf community does not see their hearing impairment as a disability but as a culture which includes a history of discrimination, racial prejudice, and segregation. According to PBS home video “Through Deaf Eyes,” there are thirty-five million Americans that are hard of hearing (Hott, Garey & et al., 2007) . Out of the thirty-five million an estimated 300,000 people are completely deaf. There are over ninety percent of deaf people who have hearing parents. Also, most deaf parents have hearing children. With this being the exemplification, deaf people communicate on a more intimate and significant level with hearing people all their lives. “Deaf people can be found in every ethnic group, every region, and every economic class.” The deaf culture and hard of hearing have plenty of arguments and divisions with living in a hearing world without sound however, that absence will be a starting point of an identity within their culture as well as the hearing culture.
In today's times, it is possible for a deaf family to characterize themselves as an all American family. For many centuries hearing people classified deafness as a horrendous misfortune. As reported by Doug Baynton (Historian at the University of Iowa), in the early 1800's most of the deaf people in America lived in segregated rural areas from one another, and with little communication with the people around them. “They also had a limited understanding of what they could do – of their own possibilities. People with deaf children really had no idea of what their children could achieve.”
There were very few Americans that looked beyond the stereotype, for the possibilities of deaf people being educated. In 1817, Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet (a Connecticut clergyman) opened the first permanent school for the deaf in Hartford. This deaf school was for American children which only had seven students and a head teacher by the name of Laurent Clerc. Clec was from the Paris Institution for the Deaf and had been deaf since infancy. He bought to the United States a nonverbal form of communication known as French sign language.
The technique that Clerc taught was by the use of his hands, which he communicated with French sign language, blended with a bit of signs used by students in the United States. To Gallaudet the language was a inspiration which he called it, “Highly poetical,” but to Clerc and many of the deaf people, the using of sign was natural and useful. This was a result of a created acculturated nonverbal language known as American Sign Language (ASL). As new schools for the deaf spread west and south, American sign language also evolved as well in the states of New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, Indiana, Illinois. By the year of 1864, Abraham Lincoln signed a law constituting the first college in the world for deaf students called Gallaudet University and all these schools used sign as a curriculum.
By April of 1871, a Scottish immigrant named,...

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