The Deaf Community And Its Culture

1918 words - 8 pages

During registration last semester, when I decided to take this course to see if I wanted to continue onward with ASL as my minor, I was not sure what to expect. Through my brief introduction of Deaf culture during my first sign language courses, I knew some vague details about historical events. Gallaudet had been mentioned several times within not only my workbook, but also by my professor. I could have given you a short synopsis of the oral movement that threatened to wipe ASL out as a language. Though I knew these facts, and a few traits about Deaf culture that I had experienced firsthand, there was so much that I had not considered before the readings and journals for this course opened my eyes.
The Deaf community is a group that is made up of many different people, who all have different backgrounds both culturally and linguistically. Every single person in the Deaf community is unique, yet they share a common quality that brings them together. These people understand what it feels like to be labeled differently from the “norm” of society, to be discriminated against or misunderstood, sometimes even by their own families. Deaf people share a pride in the culture they share. This pride is something everyone could afford to learn from, as the Deaf community prides itself on its beautiful and expressive language, as well as the accomplishments of its members. This linguistic minority group is one that has bonded together over the physical difference that separates them from normal people, and that is their varying levels of hearing loss. “The traditional view of deaf people focuses only on what is not there” (TKH p.1) this quote from our textbook is a brief synopsis of how most of the hearing world views those who cannot hear, but there is so much more to the Deaf community than just the physiological condition.
The concept of a Deaf community is not new, it is a cultural group which gives Deaf people the support they need to live a quality life (p.3). Deaf culture not only encompasses people, but also the customs and traditions that are associated with it. Over the course of this semester, my view has been expanded to view deafness as not a disability, but a “linguistic minority” (p. 55-56). Going back to my very first reading reaction, I discussed how it had been brought to my attention that a large community of people existed alongside hearing culture, but was rarely heard about. Even now, it still baffles me that most people know so little about the Deaf community, given its size. According to our textbook, about 17% percent of the population in the United States could be considered either deaf or hard-of-hearing (p. 37). ASL is one of the most used languages in the entire country, yet most people only know of it through exposure. The exposure to Deaf culture and ASL is possible through the Deaf communities in each city or town. Some places such as Rochester, New York, home of the National Technical Institute for the...

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