Deaf Culture

Abstract This paper is a straight and direct look into the deaf culture. I have included a brief a factual observation on the deaf culture its self. Included are some general Cultural Norms. There is a simple and concise part of how the Deaf communicate. There is a medical perspective versus the cultural views on how people in general perceive the Deaf culture. In the conclusion I have added my own opinion on the facts and research for which I have come across. What is Deaf culture? The Deaf culture is best defined as a social group of people who consider deafness to be a difference in human experience.

Most people believe it’s a disability, but it’s not. It is assumed that if you are deaf you are automatically included into the Deaf community, or if you are hearing you are automatically excluded from this group. Both of these statements are extremely false. The Deaf culture has many and exciting things to read about. Many of which being the way they come together as a whole, excluding no one. Really the ones that are being rejected are the deaf, which is why when deaf people are amongst other deaf people they have feelings of warmth and that they are right where they are supposed to be. After dinner I was among strangers but knew I was at home”. (Lane, 1996, 69) Cultural Norms When Deaf people first meet, the initial goal is to find out where the other person is from and to identify the Deaf friends they may have in common, where they went to school, and if they have any deaf members in their families. When a Deaf person leaves a gathering of other Deaf people, the process is quite lengthy. In Deaf culture one approaches each group to say goodbye, which often results in further conversation. The entire process may take more than an hour to accomplish.

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This behavior may seem unusual; however, if we remember that Deaf culture highly values being interconnected with all of its members, the behavior makes a great deal of sense. Communication The biggest communication in the Deaf culture is ASL (American Sign Language). It is obvious to most people that ASL is a visual language. What is not so obvious is how the visual nature of the language impacts on the rules for communication. In spoken languages there is no requirement for eye contact between the speaker and listener. With that said many eye gestures and movements in your body help the way ASL is communicated.

A simple eyebrow movement could mean several things. It has been told that you cannot sign and speak the English language at the same time. “It is very hard to simultaneously sign in ASL and speak impromptu, because the grammatical structures of the two are so different. You can switch between one and the other with relative ease. And if you rehearse it, you can pull the simultaneous speaking/ASL. -signing trick. ” (Gurewitsch, 2003, D8) Another form of communicating in the Deaf community is the TTY, formally called Telecommunication Devices for the Deaf (TDD) are used for two-way text conversation over a telephone line.

They are the primary tool used by deaf people and some hard of hearing people for telephone conversation. While using a TTY, you may encounter a thing called a Telecommunications relay services (TRS) provides voice telephone users and people who are deaf, hard of hearing, or speech-disabled to communicate over a regular telephone. How this TRS works is one person calls the service and the service dictates what the sender is saying on a TTY and sends it to the receiver. Deaf people listen with their eyes. A Deaf person cannot look at an object and at the same time listen to you describe how to use it.

Only talk when you have eye contact with the Deaf person. Medical views vs. Deaf culture The medical perspective and the cultural perspective of deafness are quite different. Because doctors almost always have a hearing perspective of deafness and look at it as a disability, impairment, or handicap to be treated so that patients can enjoy hearing, almost invariably medical specialists propose treatment, such as implants or speech therapy, in order to help enable deaf individuals to get along in a hearing world.

On the other hand, Deaf culture focuses on the strengths rather than the weaknesses of deafness and sees deafness not as a disability but as a linguistic minority. Never having experienced deafness themselves, this cultural view often baffles hearing people. Nevertheless, many Deaf people are proud to be Deaf, not just deaf with a lowercase d, meaning unable to hear, but Deaf with a capital D, meaning they are part of the culture. My perception of the Deaf culture The Deaf culture is a proud one.

Deaf people get together at conventions and expos, united by the common experiences they have had because they are deaf. It is unusual for deafness to be hereditary. Therefore, the culture is passed on through the community instead of the family. If we learn more about the different cultures within our nation, we can become more tolerant towards those that are different. American society tends to approach deafness as a defect. To me, deafness is not a defect but a source of connection.

A beautiful connection called signed language involving, humor, visual literature, theater, and deep emotions. The deaf culture has often been labeled as the “deaf- and- dumb culture”. This is not only an insulting term it is also very inaccurate. Deaf people are just as intelligent as hearing people. These names are so negative and derogatory it makes me sick to know that some people have no knowledge about the deaf culture or community at all. Deafness is such a unique, insightful, and wonderful loss. It is one with such beauty and meaning that it makes it not a loss at all.

I wish one day everyone could see that deafness is more of a gift instead of a defect. I learned that you need to create the right facial expressions to go along with the sign I am doing. This makes the sign clear for the person I am signing to. Facial expressions mostly include raising and lowering of the eye brows and mouth movements. Also I learned how difficult it is to lip read and to not assume the person I am signing to can read my lips. Lip reading is a very hard concept, especially with the English language.

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