The Deaf Community And Deaf Culture

1555 words - 6 pages

From antiquity, being deaf was looked upon as an undesirable and a culture which was disconnected with the rest of mainstream society. Often members of the community found themselves ostracized by members of other cultures, who viewed them with suspicion, and were thought to be possessed, or in communion, with undesirable “spirits”, particularly during the advent of the Christianity that was in practice during the Middle Ages. During this period, before the advent of Gutenberg’s metal, movable type printing press, the populace was mostly illiterate and religious texts and spiritual obligations/instructions were verbally transmitted to the people by the literate clerics of the day. Thus, the deaf were believed to have no access to “Fides ex auditu,” which was the primary way, and often thought to be the only way; one could reach spiritual fulfillment and salvation. (Lane, 1984)
In the United States today, approximately 4500 children are born deaf each year, and numerous other individuals suffer injuries or illnesses that can cause partial or total loss of hearing, making them the largest “disability” segment in the country. Although, those in the medical field focus solely on the medical aspects of hearing loss and deafness, members of the deaf community find this unwarranted focus limiting and restrictive; because of its failure to adequately delineate the sociological aspects and implications of the deaf and their culture. Present day members of deaf culture reject classifications such as “deaf mute” or “deaf and dumb”, as marginalizing them because of their allusions to a presumed disability. (Edwards, 2012, p. 26-30)
This struggle against marginalization is one of the principal elements that bind their sense of community, along with a common language, ASL, which is utilized as the primary source of communication amongst them; they also possess a set of convictions about who they are and how they are connected and interact with one another, and too, with the societies outside of their culture. This bond is not, as some would suppose, a simple rapport between people who feel a kinship with those who have a similar physical condition, but is, in the traditional sense like other cultures, in that its traditions and values were, historically created and actively disseminated across generations. (Christiansen & Barnartt, 2003, Chapter 2-4)
One of the current social policies in place that protect the rights of the Deaf and hearing impaired is the Americans with Disabilities Act. (The Americans with Disabilities Act, 1990 ) The ADA is a body of laws and policies that bans discrimination against those with disabilities. This includes the deaf and hearing impaired population. The ADA has four sections that cover: employment, public accommodations, government and telecommunications. In order to be compliant with the ADA, employers are compelled to inquire about the types of accommodation needs the deaf employee has so that they may work alongside...

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