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Understanding Deaf Culture

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Deaf people are often seen incorrectly. According to a legend, a Greek mythical character named Procrustes, invited tired travelers to rest at his home. Procrustes gave out special accommodations that fit everyone, regardless of the guests’ size. When the guest was shorter than the bed Procrustes owned, Procrustes would stretch the guest’s body to fit and when the guest’s legs were longer than the bed, Procrustes would chop off their legs so they would fit the bed. Aimee K. Whyte and Douglas A. Guiffrida explained the way deaf people are viewed: “Deaf people are often stretched or cut short to assimilate with the majority culture…Deaf people struggle against a procrustean system of hearing and speech and continually experience discrimination” (Whyte and Guiffrida 2008: 190). Deaf culture is seen in a variety of ways. When capitalized, the word “Deaf” focuses on what deaf people have: a living culture in which people have unlimited options to do endless possibilities. Deaf people in America live among hearing people who have a separate cultural belief system. Deaf culture has many values and deaf people have many experiences unique to their culture. Deaf culture has many values. Deaf culture matters because a culture defines who people are and how they react. According to the article: Signs of Their Times: Deaf Communities and the Culture of Language, “Deafness is, at least in part, a social construction. Understanding the complex nature of communities with deaf members requires attending to how people use and think about language…we need to understand more about the culture of language” (Senghas and Monaghan 2002: 70). People, who want to learn more about this culture, must learn about how the members of this group interact with ... ... middle of paper ... .... A person has to be Deaf to understand these unique experiences and values they hold. American society does not have to be like Procrustes, who made everyone fit in order to belong. Works Cited Aimee K. Whyte and Douglas A. Guiffrida. 2008. “Counseling Deaf College Students: The Case of Shea.” Journal of College Counseling, 184-192. Rochester: American Counseling Association. Colasent, Rita. 1996. “The Power of True Expression.” The Reading Teacher, 378-379. Beachwood: International Reading Association. Madsen, Willard J. You Have to be Deaf to Understand, 1. Washington: Gallaudet University. Richard J. Senghas and Leila Monaghan. 2002. “Signs of Their Times: Deaf Communities and the Culture of Language.” Annual Review of Anthropology, 69-70. Smith, Lentz, and Ken Mikos. 2008. Signing Naturally Student Workbook, Units 1-6, viii. San Diego: Dawn Sign Press.
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