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American Sign Language

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American Sign Language

In learning about the deaf culture I have taken on a new understanding about the people it includes. Through readings and the lessons, I have learned that being deaf has both its hardships and its blessings. The beauty of the language alone makes one want to learn all that he or she can about it. In this paper I will discuss the beauty of the language and the misconceptions the hearing world has about deafness.
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. In the early 1800's when ASL was first brought about in the United States Being deaf was considered shameful and defective. The first school for the deaf was called "The American Asylum for the instruction of the Deaf and Dumb" ; in those days this was an acceptable term to use. There are many other terms that are unacceptable to the deaf, such as : deaf-mute, mute, hearing handicapped, disabled, dummie etc.. Even in today's day and age some people still use these terms. Another common assumption of the hearing is that all deaf people can or should read lips, this is not so- lip reading is very difficult to master. Verbalization is also expected from the deaf by the hearing, this is also very difficult for the deaf because most deaf people have never heard their own voice and cannot know if their intonation, pitch and volume are used correctly. Another misconception about the deaf is that different from the hearing, most hearing people mean well, but speak to the deaf as if they are mentally challenged, this is why a deaf person may walk away or give a disapproving look.
The hearing world often...

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... people have just followed along generation after generation.
I also feel that ASL is a beautiful language and should be given as a choice in language requirements in all grade levels. This language that was brought to us over 150 years ago could sustain and still be useful today for within our own country unlike Italian, French or German. It has some kind of magic that makes us want to learn and speak it when we do not have to. The fluent and rhythmic motions are mesmerizing and captivating and anyone with the means to learn it should.

Bahan, Ben. Hoffmeister, Robert. Lane, Harlan. A Journey into the Deaf World. USA: Dawn Sign Press.

Humphries, Tom. Padden, Carol. Deaf in America (Voices from a Culture). Massachusetts: Harvard University Press.

Levitan, Linda. Moore, Matthew.S. For Hearing People Only. New York: Deaf Life Press.

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