... because it fascinates me
Padden has defined Culture as a set of learned behaviors of a group
of people who have their own language, values, rules of behavior,
and traditions. (1988)
results from a group of people coming together to form a community
around shared experience, common interests, shared norms of behavior,
and shared survival techniques. Such groups as the deaf, seek each
other out for social interaction and emotional support.
The essential link to Deaf Culture among the American deaf community
is American Sign Language. This community shares a common sense of
pride in their Culture and language. There exists a rich heritage
and pride in the ability to overcome adversity as individuals and
as a group. Deaf power hit the World in 1988 at Gallaudet University,
an event known as the "Deaf President Now" (DPN) Movement.
The protest has made a mark in history and proves that Deaf Culture
is Pride and that Pride is Power.
Mastery of ASL and skillful storytelling are highly valued in Deaf
Culture. Through ASL Literature, one generation passes on to the next
its wisdom, values, and its pride and thus reinforces the bonds that
unite the younger generation.
Another feature of this Culture is the role
of marriage. It is estimated that 9 out of 10 members of the American
Deaf community marry other members of their cultural group. Many D/deaf
couples also wish for a deaf child so that they may pass on their
heritage and Culture, it is not just the language but the values,
the same values that hearing parents want to instill in their children.
Aside from Deaf Culture, there is a shared unity within the deaf community.
That unity is the use of assistive devices that help the deaf individual
know when the phone is ringing or when someone is at the door. Deaf
people can talk to other members of the deaf community as well as
to hearing people, through a device called the TTY or TDD. This is
a small Teletype writer that looks like a mini Word processor. How
it works is
- the deaf
person will dial the number
the receiver on TTY
- once the
person answers, they type messages back and forth. (kind of like
chatting on the Internet)
the other person must have a TTY also but if they don't then they
can call through a relay service. An operator will type messages to
the deaf person and voice to the hearing person.
How does a deaf person know when they are receiving
a call??? There is a device called a Visual Ring Signaler (VRS), that
is hooked up to the phone and to a lamp, when the phone rings the
lamp will blink alerting the deaf person that the phone is ringing.
The same goes for the doorbell, when someone rings the bell it will
signal a light to flash on and off. There is also a device called
a baby cry signaler, again it works the same way, there is a device
in the baby's room and one in the parents room, when the baby cries
it sends a signal to the lamp in the parents room which causes it
to flash on and off. There are different variations of how the lamps
will blink so that it is not confusing to the deaf person... is it
the phone, or the door? One may blink on and off real fast, the other
may flash on and off in a short rhythmic pattern, or they can be hooked
up to different lamps in different areas of the house.
Because there is a deaf community with its own language and Culture,
there is a cultural frame in which to be deaf is not to be disabled.
Quite the contrary, it is as we have seen an asset in Deaf Culture
to be deaf in behavior, values, knowledge, and fluency in ASL. Deafness
is not a disability but rather a different way of being. However,
it must be noted that not all members of the deaf community share
the same values of those deaf who support Deaf Culture.
a deaf person may sign, that alone does not mean they follow Deaf
Culture or the beliefs of that Culture, remember that Deaf Culture
is an identity. Each D/deaf individual is unique and opinions may
differ. This may be due to; setting of education, language, whether
their parents were deaf or hearing and if they signed or not, which
language the deaf person uses and so forth. Along with that
there are many Hard of Hearing individuals who prefer Deaf Culture
over Hearing Culture and Vice-Versa.
There are different levels of self-pride when it comes to Deaf Culture
and how strong a person supports that Culture. Some members do not
like Hard of Hearing or hearing people, where other members of Deaf
Culture are accepting. Although my page is directed to ASL and Deaf
Culture, it is important for you to know ALL aspects of deafness,
Culture and so forth. I feel it is important for anyone who is learning
ASL to have a full understanding of Deaf Culture, deafness in its
pathological view (defining deafness as a handicap), ASL and knowledge
of the various forms of sign systems.
There is much more to Deaf Culture than explained
here but it gives you insight to the American Deaf Community. It is
important for you to socialize and interact within the deaf community
for many reasons. Of course it will help improve your signing and
receptive skills, but it teaches you something so much more valuable
experience. You will see that I say through out my website that the
D/deaf community will be your greatest teacher, not until you fully
understand the pathological view of deafness and the oppression of
the deaf community can you fully accept Deaf Culture and be accepted
into the deaf community.