Why is it important to know about Deaf culture? It is incredible, filled with amazing facts.
You’ll begin to learn and understand how ASL is a visual language connecting with the Deaf culture and how it doesn’t come with voice components.
It means deaf people are moving their hands, using facial expressions, and communicating without using their voices.
Most of them are unable to hear and rely on their eyes to communicate with each other.
Let’s discuss the American Sign Language.
It’s built with complex grammar and is different from English. It is also not a universal language.
There are different sign languages in other countries like spoken languages.
Sign languages like Swedish (SSL), Britain (BSL), Spanish (LSE), and more.
Now let’s talk about the Deaf culture… what is it exactly?
According to Dr. Barbara Kannapel (a Deaf Sociolinguist at Gallaudet University), says that “Deaf culture is a set of learned behaviors and perceptions that shapes the values and norms of deaf people based on their shared or common experiences.”
To simplify this, here are some examples that set them apart from the “hearing” culture:
- Values: Considers themselves members of a group that includes all Deaf people. Recognizes themselves as a close-knit and interconnected group while enjoying companionship.
For example, when Deaf people first meet, their goal is to find where the other person is from and to identify the Deaf friends they both have in common.
They also believe in language and communication’s importance through expression and appreciation in Deaf schools and clubs. They want to preserve ASL literature, Deaf heritage, Deaf art, etc.
- Traditions: Things like stories, folklore, festivals, and theatre passing on through Deaf generations, Deaf experiences, and participation of Deaf cultural events.
For example, Deaf people like to participate in Deaf Children Festivals provided by Deaf schools, Deaf Awareness, Deaf Nation, etc., to celebrate Deaf life, acknowledgment, and accomplishments, including the struggles of Deaf people throughout history.
- Social Norms: Rules of etiquette for getting attention, walking through signed conversations, leave-taking, and politely negotiating a signing environment.
For example, Deaf people have their way of getting someone’s attention (like waving or flicking the light), using direct eye contact, and correct use of shoulder tapping.
- Identity: One of the critical components of the whole person. It allows them to accept themselves as a Deaf person, be proud of their culture. It helps recognize themselves as a contributing member of that society.
For example, some individuals label themselves Deaf with a big “D,” little “d” or prefers the word, hard of hearing. You can learn more by clicking here to understand the differences between these labels.
Deaf people believe in the environment that supports American Sign Language. They also believe it’s a tool to help them through school, at home, and actively participate in their communities.
American Sign Language gives them access to the information and gives them the ability to learn how the world works. Includes the independence to drive, travel, work, and participate in all aspects of society.
It also enables deaf children to have full access to get the help they need for their bilingual education, using both languages: ASL and English. Both languages allow them to become competent instead of limiting themselves to choosing one language.
Are you ready to experience the Deaf culture? Read Deaf Etiquette 101 to learn more. It’ll teach you how to approach a deaf or hard of hearing person for the first time!