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KimSmith
EnglishA
Prof.AngelaBorders
MW89:20AM

DeafCulture
Peopleareattractedtodifferentgroupswhohavesimilarbackgrounds,languages,
andlifeexperiencesasthemselves.Inthe1800sinAmerica,duringtheheightof
immigration,mostlargecitieshadareaswhereimmigrantsfromthesamecountrywould
liveandwork,becomingasubculturewithinthecity.Today,asimilaroccurrenceoccurs
throughoutmoderntownsandcities;thesepeoplearentbroughttogetherbynationality,
butbytheirinabilitytohear.ThoseintheDeafcommunitytakecareoftheirown.
Whethersomeoneisbornwithouttheabilitytohearorlaterlosetheirhearing,the
clinicalwordfortheirconditionisdeaf,speltwithalowercased.WhenthewordDeaf
isspeltwithacapitalD,itisreferringtotheirculture,orrathersubcultureofthosewhose
identityislargelyshapedbytheirsharedlanguageandexperiencesofbeingdeafina
hearingworld.TheDeafculturedoesnotnecessarilyincludejustdeaf,butalsoincludes
allwhoarebroughttogetherviatheirlanguage,theirvalues,beliefs,andeventheway
theyact.Thisincludeshearingpeople,andoftensignlanguageinterpreters;childrenof
deafparentsareapartoftheculture.
ThemostimportantaspectofDeafcultureisthelanguage.Most,notall,Americans
useAmericanSignLanguage,orASLforshort.Totheuninitiated,itcanlookvery
strangeandunintelligible;butreally,itisabeautifulexpressionoftheEnglishlanguage,
thathasitsownrichhistory,poetry,andevendialects.Indifferentpartsofthecountry,

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grammaticalstructuresandeventhewayasignisgivencanvary,onecandistinguish
whereoneisfrombythewaytheysign,justasasoutherndrawlisdistinguishedfromthe
twangofaBostonian.Forthisreason,thedeafareoftenantagonisticagainstinnovations
suchastheCochlearimplantsthatwoulddestroythisuniquecharacteristicofthem.
Whichbringsmetothehearingworldseeingthedeafasdisabled.MembersoftheDeaf
culturedonotseethemselvesasbeingdisabled,andresentanydiscriminationor
inferencethattheyaredisabled.Theyhaveaphysiologicaldifference,butdontsee
anythingnegativeorthatshouldbechanged.Tothem,itwouldbenodifferentfrom
beingbornwithbrowneyesratherthanblue.Theirpositiveattitudetowardsbeingdeaf
andtheimportanceofsignlanguageasadeviceforculturalunityareperhapsthemost
identifiablesocialbeliefoftheDeafcommunity.
However,thinkingthatthereisjustoneDeafcommunitywouldbeamistake.
WhiletheDeafcommunityisacloseknitcommunity,thereismuchdiversityamongthe
Deafasthereisamongothergroups.Theseincludevariousreligiousandpoliticalbeliefs,
areemployedinvariouscareers,andhaveordinarylivesinwhichtheyparentandpay
theirtaxes,justaseveryoneelsedoes.MostoftheDeafcommunitytendstomeetoften
andworkforvariouscauses;therearedeaforganizations,deafawarenessandeducation
groups,anddeafschools.Becausemostdeafchildrenareborntohearingparents,Deaf
cultureismostoftenlearnedinschool,whichwillallcirculateitabitdifferently.
Duetoitsdifferencesinlanguage,theDeafcommunityhasdevelopedasetof
etiquetterulesfordealingwitheachotherandhearingindividuals.Forexample,they
haverulesforinterruptingandleavingaconversationandoftenseemblunttohearing

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people.Itisalsocommonforthemtobeearlytoeventstoinsuretheyhaveaseatwhere
theycanseetheinterpreter.Theircultureisveryhighlyconnectedtoeachother,keeping
eachotherinformedabouteverythingandoneanother.Afterall,eveninlargecities,
thereareafairsmallgroupandneedthatconstantcommunicationtomaintaintheunity
theycherish.
TheDeafcultureisaculturethatisverycloseknit,thepeoplethatareapartofit,
areincrediblepeople,whohavemanytalents.Whenmybestfriendfirstintroducedmeto
theDeafcultureworld,Iwasfascinatedathowcloseknittheyare,andhowtheyseemto
communicatesoeffortlessly.Theyareverysocialandcuriouspeople;theywanttoknow
asmuchastheycan.NowthatIamfamiliarwiththeirculture,Ifeelcomfortablebeing
aroundthedeaf,whichatfirst,IwaslikeadeercaughtintheheadlightsandIwould
freezewhensomeonewouldsigntome.Ihavemetsomeamazingpeopleinthisculture,
anditisaculturetoitsfullestextent,andhaveevenmadesomefriendsthatwoulddo
justaboutanythingtohelpsomeone.