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Deaf President Now Essay

2283 words - 9 pages

Is it easy for a collection of individuals to follow a leader who does not represent the same values within the culture? The United States is generally thought of as a liberated and progressive country. If the president does not stand for the citizens the expected outcome is a reduction in support. This example creates a foundation for understanding the Deaf President Now protest. To completely explain the battle for this way of life it is necessary to explore the Deaf culture. In Gallaudet University’s history of 124 years they never had a Deaf president, only hearing individuals had held the position. The protest in 1988 for a Deaf president at Gallaudet University, the only liberal arts college for deaf and hard of hearing students, impacted the legacy of Deaf culture in more ways than one.
The Deaf President Now protest used a few theoretical concepts covered in lecture and the readings. The first concept applied is tactic which also unites well with another concept, political opportunity. The tactic Gallaudet students used is called the ACT-UP disruptions. Meyer (2007) describes the ACT-UP tactic, “…it also demands a response from authorities. The disruptions are impossible to ignore because they interrupt the everyday routine of both targets and bystanders, and they often involve explicit transgressions of the law”. The protestors projected change in the structure of leadership and took advantage of political opportunity and the use of contentious politics. Meyer explains that tactics can be an attempt at change or an outlet to send a message to an extensive community often through the attention of media. This movement utilized the resources of formal organizations as well as the use of informal social networks within the college.
A deaf or hard of hearing person is not considered disabled in the Deaf community but rather part of a unique culture. Tucker (1997) describes the culture more in depth, “Members of the larger deaf com-munity may be either deaf or Deaf. Persons who view themselves as deaf are those who, although impaired in their ability to hear, have assimilated into hearing society and do not view themselves as members of a separate culture. Persons who view them-selves as Deaf, however, consider themselves members of a separate Deaf culture, rather than of the larger hearing culture”. There is a generalization that deaf individuals need to be fixed or cured of their impairment; however, deaf people only see it as a minor difference between themselves and a hearing person. Deaf culture sees deafness as only one thing they cannot do, that is hearing sound. This culture that has been created is an important example of why the movement at Gallaudet University emerged at the time that it did. The student body and other individuals that shared the same sentiment for the culture decided that having a Deaf president had been prolonged.
Christiansen and Barnartt describe the brief history of the earlier years for the Deaf...

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