Children of a Lesser God: Barriers to Communication between Deaf and Hearing Cultures

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When considering what constitutes a different culture, people often believe this has to do only with location, background, ethnicity, race, or other similar identifies. The Center for Advanced Research on Language Acquisition, defines culture as “the shared patterns of behaviors and interactions, cognitive constructs, and affective understanding that are learned through a process of socialization.” This definition does not appear to require that a group of people need to be directly from or descended from people who lived in a different location, instead emphasizing the importance of socialization in developing a cultural identity. Socialization also helps to shape how people view their world. It has been proposed by many that a cultural world view is strongly influenced by language. The Sapir–Whorf hypothesis states that language is significantly related to how people perceive and interact with the world around them (Otto). This hypothesis demonstrates the importance of language in cultural identity and suggests that lack of a shared language is a barrier to communication.
When considering language, people often fail to include non-verbal language in the definition, in particular American Sign Language used by those who are deaf. Many believe that people who are deaf share the same culture as those who can hear, as the difference between hearing and non-hearing individuals raised in the same society is believed to be only sensory oriented. Yet deaf individual have been shown to have their own culture and many choose to use ASL exclusively, teaching it to their children, as the view it to be a critical aspect of maintaining deaf culture (Gallaudet).
The movie Children of a Lesser God explores how hearing individuals may view thos...

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...lture. When people are too stubborn to entertain other points of view, perspectives, definitions, and belief systems they will stop growing and learning new ways of seeing things. Similarly, when members who make up a culture view those outside their group as hostile or judgmental and keep themselves separate from anyone from an alternate culture, they are engendering the prejudicial attitudes and stereotypes they find so offensive. .When people are comfortable with their own cultural identity and are self-aware or their own strengths and weaknesses they can explore other cultures in an open manner without feeling threatened by differences they encounter. This will lead to empathy and understanding among cultures such that the increasing trend towards globalization will result in a richer world instead of a world marred by miscommunication based on ethnocentricity.

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