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Deaf Culture

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Deaf Culture
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Deaf (sub)culture is the set of social beliefs, behaviors, art, literary traditions, history, values, and shared institutions of communities that are influenced by deafness and which use sign languages as the main means of communication. When used as a cultural label especially within the culture, the word deaf is often written with a capital D and referred to as "big D Deaf" in speech and sign. When used as a label for the audiological condition, it is written with a lower case d.

Members of the Deaf community tend to view deafness as a difference in human experience rather than a disability or disease.[1][2] Many members take pride in their Deaf identity. Deaf people, in the sense of a community or culture, can then be seen as a minority group, and therefore some who are a part of this community may feel misunderstood by those who don't know sign language. Another struggle that the Deaf community often faces is that educational institutions usually consist primarily of hearing people. Additionally, hearing family members may need to learn sign language in order for the deaf person to feel included and supported. Unlike other cultures, a deaf person may join the community later in life, rather than being born into it.

The community may include hearing family members of deaf people and sign-language interpreters who identify with Deaf culture. It does not automatically include all people who are deaf or hard-of-hearing. As educator and American Sign Language interpreter Anna Mindess writes, "it is not the extent of hearing loss that defines a member of the deaf community but the individual's own sense of identity and resultant actions."[3] As with all social groups that a person chooses to belong to, a person is a member of the Deaf community if he or she "identifies him/herself as a member of the Deaf community, and other members accept that person as a part of the community."

Deaf culture is recognized under Article 30, Paragraph 4 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which states that "Persons with disabilities shall be entitled, on an equal basis with others, to recognition and support of their specific cultural and linguistic identity, including sign languages and deaf culture."

ReferencesEdit

  1. Ladd, Paddy (2003). Understanding Deaf Culture: In Search of Deafhood. Multilingual Matters. p. 502. ISBN 978-1-85359-545-5.
  2. Lane, Harlan L.; Richard Pillard; Ulf Hedberg (2011). The People of the Eye: Deaf Ethnicity and Ancestry. Oxford University Press. p. 269. ISBN 978-0-19-975929-3.
  3. Mindess, Anna (2006). Reading Between the Signs: Intercultural Communication for Sign Language Interpreters. ISBN 978-1-931930-26-0.]

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