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American Sign Language

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Through the years of studying American Sign Language, I am constantly striving for more knowledge and information. The Deaf are a unique subculture, who on first glance may not look all that different, but once you explore deeper, you will soon find out just how different they are. The Deaf culture is fascinating. How do you adapt to a world that is drastically different from yours? When you are labeled an “outsider” in a hearing society, how do you survive? With American Sign Language, often referred to as “ASL”, Deaf members have a primary way of visually communicating with the world.

Being unable to hear is only a part of being Deaf. To be fully included in the Deaf community, one must know or understand ASL” [1]The Deaf community consists of many labels cast upon them, from each other, as well as the hearing world. The largest label in the Deaf community is the one used to represent your state of deafness.

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This is done through the capitalization of the letter “D”. When signed, spoken, or written, “little d” indicates that you are indeed deaf. When in communication with another person, it indicates that you have lost your hearing, and that you are not just a person who happens to know sign language.

This is of huge importance for the deaf. “Big D” refers to the people who are involved in the deaf community and culture, and share the same values, beliefs, language and behaviors, but may or may not be profoundly deaf. These may be hearing children born to deaf parents, also known as CODA (Children of Deaf Adults), who have a connection with the deaf world, but are not deaf themselves, or it may include those who recently became deaf. It may also include those who have a great interest in the Deaf Community such as teachers, translators, hearing friends of the deaf, etc. It is not the extent of the hearing loss that defines a member of the Deaf community, but the individuals own sense of identity and resultant actions. ” The Deaf community typically includes individuals who communicate visually with ASL, those who attend schools for the deaf, children of deaf parents, and both teachers or interpreters who understand sign language. Deaf communities also often have different social and cultural norms that are quite different than most hearing communities. Deaf people as a group believe members of the Deaf community should adhere to certain rules or standards of behavior.

The most important social norm is the use of ASL, against options such as Signed Exact English (SEE). With SEE, every thing you want to say in English is translated into sign language. This is less favored and believed to be an insult to the native ASL, believing this to be another way of the hearing world trying to take over. Because the deaf do not generally hear loud/soft or voice inflection, they rely on body movement and facial expression to show interest, feeling, or focus. It is also used frequently when asking questions.

Often times the deaf will ask with their eyebrows. The signer must use his or her eyes to exhibit a range of emotion from sadness to excitement. For example, a “yes/no” question requires raising the eyebrows and widening the eyes while leaning the head forward. On the other hand, asking a question beginning with “WH”, “who, what, where, when, etc”, requires the signer to lower their eyebrows and lean forward. Signs showing great emotions such as joy, anger, or hurt, need to be accompanied by the appropriate facial expression.

Some of these signs are distinguished not by hand movements but by facial expression. The same sign can also be used to show more than one meaning, depending on the movement of the head or expressions of the face. Introductions are also a huge part of the Deaf world and their norms. The introduction between hearing and deaf must be established immediately. It is always important to let the deaf know whether you are hearing or deaf. This is to create boundaries between the two. Deaf people want to control who is within and outside of these boundaries.

Deaf people feel invaded if the hearing person does not identify their status. This is because there are certain and different questions asked to those hearing and those not. “It is common to provide detailed information when leaving early, arriving late, or even exiting a room for a short period of time. Withholding information is considered extremely rude. ”[2] This is due to the language barrier. In the hearing world, it is acceptable to leave a room without offering an explanation. People can hear you exit, or hear you speak about leaving.

In the Deaf world, even leaving a room to go to the restroom, you must explain this. This is the polite thing to do, as to not have the members worry about what happened to you. Always notify someone before going out of sight. One of the strongest beliefs in the Deaf Culture is the maintaining of their language. With technology growing, and more and more ways of communicating, Deaf feel their language is in jeopardy. Most Deaf strongly oppose the use of devices such as the cochlear implant, or hearing aids. With devices such as the cochlear implant,

Cite this American Sign Language

American Sign Language. (2017, Mar 20). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/american-sign-language-2/

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