Culture And Sign Culture: What Is Deaf Culture?

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What is Deaf Culture?

It is approximated that there are nearly 1,000,000 deaf and hard of hearing people in the United States. This spans across all races, genders, socioeconomic standings, and age groups. Deaf people have long been marginalized and pitied by the hearing majority. Years of oppression and disregard have given life to an entire culture happening within a dominate hearing ideology. This culture questions the meaning of disability and pushes back against the assumptions of superiority that are often innate to the majority group. In the culture there are clear distinctions between “deaf” and “Deaf”, the former is a condition and the latter is a culture made up of thousands of people who share only one thing, the inability to hear.
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Throughout American deaf history, the French have had lasting and important influence. American Sign Language, the unspoked language that distinguishes and defines the Deaf community, found it’s roots in Paris around 1790. However, according to The History of Deaf Culture and Sign Language by Carol Padden and Tom Humphries the origins of sign language go back much farther. The practice of fingerspelling is believed to been developed by Spanish monks in 1620 to teach their deaf students to read and write. Monks also used fingerspelling to communicate during vows of…show more content…
The late 19th century gave birth to a strong oralist movement. Oralism refers to the desire to educate deaf and hard of hearing persons through the practice of spoken language by means of lip reading and the mimicking of breathing techniques and mouth shapes. This movement made many blows to Deaf culture including the vote to ban sign language in the education of the deaf by the International Congress of the Deaf in Milan. It is worth noting that this decision was made at a time when actual Deaf delegates were not allowed to vote. The decision by the Congress also discouraged Deaf community members from teaching. Damned for Their Difference and article in The Journal of American History coincides the oralist movement with the development of Darwinism. The article

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