Being Deaf doesn't Mean Being Silent

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Imagine using no spoken words, not hearing at all, yet at the same time communicating perfectly. By use of American Sign Language (ASL), many people communicate everyday. They share stories of hope and despair, trade ideas and opinions, cry and laugh. Their difference is one that is important in their lives, yet does not in any way decrease the value of those lives. Deafness is such a unique, insightful, and wonderful loss. It is one with such beauty and meaning. Deafness is one "disability" that isn't really a disability at all. Instead many prefer to look at it as a culture. The Deaf culture is made up of primarily deaf people who view their hearing loss as a different way of life. These people use their native tongue, American Sign Language, to communicate. ASL is a "full" language. it has adjectives following nouns, in addition to verbs, adverbs, and pronouns. It is not a language made up of gestures or miming. Signing is a precise process. It is a combination of one's face, body, eyes, shoulders, and hands moving in synch. A person cannot fully "speak" the language without understanding the importance of all five aspects. You can change the meaning of a phrase completely by raising your eyebrows, repeating the sign, or enlarging the space used. You create a whole picture, the scenario as it takes place. You explain to the receiver the mood, time frame, and event all in a short amount of time. Take an airplane ride, for example: you could sign the place quickly taking off, flying steadily to its destination, and having a bumpy landing, all with one movement. In the same sense, you can describe a person, a place, or an object to the tee. Giving directions is a snap, and telling a story is marvelous.

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...ts, friends from friends, and the "powerful" from the "powerless." This problem that is sometimes overlooked is a very large one.

My hope is that some day this language will have the appreciation and acceptance that is deserved. People will realize that we don't need to change the language at all; we can learn from this minority instead. Those people who think of deafness as a hearing impairment, should think of themselves as signing-impaired. Deaf people use their eyes instead of their ears. They substitute signs for words; they use what they have. Their attitudes reflect that they are proud of who they are, not ashamed of or disappointed in their deafness.

Being Deaf doesn't have to mean being silent. Approval by the rest of society would give them the recognition and acceptance they deserve and need to truly live full lives.

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