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What is Deaf Culture ?

Deaf Culture 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.

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.

The 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.

Although 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. 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. 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.

MEJ provides Deaf Culture Awareness and Basic Sign Language Workshops. These Workshops were developed to increase an organizations Awareness of Deaf Culture and it's ability to communicate with the Deaf and Hard of Hearing consumers served .

What is Culture ?





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