The Deaf Community and Its Culture

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During registration last semester, when I decided to take this course to see if I wanted to continue onward with ASL as my minor, I was not sure what to expect. Through my brief introduction of Deaf culture during my first sign language courses, I knew some vague details about historical events. Gallaudet had been mentioned several times within not only my workbook, but also by my professor. I could have given you a short synopsis of the oral movement that threatened to wipe ASL out as a language. Though I knew these facts, and a few traits about Deaf culture that I had experienced firsthand, there was so much that I had not considered before the readings and journals for this course opened my eyes.
The Deaf community is a group that is made up of many different people, who all have different backgrounds both culturally and linguistically. Every single person in the Deaf community is unique, yet they share a common quality that brings them together. These people understand what it feels like to be labeled differently from the “norm” of society, to be discriminated against or misunderstood, sometimes even by their own families. Deaf people share a pride in the culture they share. This pride is something everyone could afford to learn from, as the Deaf community prides itself on its beautiful and expressive language, as well as the accomplishments of its members. This linguistic minority group is one that has bonded together over the physical difference that separates them from normal people, and that is their varying levels of hearing loss. “The traditional view of deaf people focuses only on what is not there” (TKH p.1) this quote from our textbook is a brief synopsis of how most of the hearing world views those who ca...

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...class. I have learned not only about the history of Deaf culture in America, but also about ASL, the cultural norms, and the variety of different personal experiences people have faced. I may not be Deaf, or the best signer, but as a learner I can see why this community takes such pride in its culture and I hope that ASL continues to grow and spread as a language, so that Deaf people can gain an identity in this linguistic minority and have the support they need to feel good about themselves. Deaf culture is a vast and important part of American culture as a whole. It is these differences that make this country so diverse. I hope one day that everyone will learn at least the basics of Deaf culture and come to understand that deafness is not a disability, merely a difference in terms of communication and an entry into one of the most vibrant cultures of society.

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