Deaf Culture & Community: (Aspects, Value & Importance)

The meaning of deaf is lacking the power of hearing. Deaf people have two main ways to communicate with others, First is Lips Reading and second is Sign Language. They are not able to hear you but it does not mean they can’t understand. There is a proper way to communicate with them so that they understand you properly what are you saying. This has been possible because of the deaf culture. Learn more about this, sign language, and more forms of deaf communication below.

What is Deaf Culture?

Deaf Culture is the set of art, behaviour, tradition, values, social environment, and shared institutions of communities that they are influenced by Deafness (deafness means A person has limited ability to hear and understand the sound ) and they use sign languages as the mean of communication. Culture used to describe the unique patterns, knowledge of a particular group of people.

Deaf people use American Sign Language (ASL) to communicate with each other and understand with hearing people who know the language. ASL is a very complex grammatical language. It is not a universal language. There are many signed language in other countries such as Italian Sign Language, Chinese Sign Language, etc.

Deaf culture in India today

Now India is the largest deaf community in the world. In India many welfare organisation working for the benefits of the deaf community because of 18 million deaf people in India. Today, The country has a many organization working and dedicated to the deaf at the national, state, and regional levels.

Some key Organizations:

  • All India Federation and Sports Council of the Deaf(New Delhi)
  • Bihar Association (Patna)
  • Deaf can Association (Bhopal)
  • Delhi Association (New Delhi)
  • West Bengal Association(Kolkata)
  • Madras Association (Chennai) Etc.

Education and Training In India

In the 1960s and 70s, India has no more than 10 schools for the deaf, but today there are several deaf schools and colleges in the country. The highest concentration was seen in the states of Delhi, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu.

India has developed its own sign language. First Indian sign language was launched with 3000 words of a dictionary by Shri Thaawarchand Gehlot. This Dictionary was created by ISLR and TC. The main purpose of the dictionary was to remove communication barriers between the deaf and hearing people. The aim was to give the constitutional right of deaf people to speech and opportunity for freedom of expression into the mainstream in the society.

The Dictionary has focused on providing more information in ISL. ISL Explained easy language for deaf and hearing people for learning and expressing their feeling and ideas. This dictionary is available in Hindi and English both in hard copy and video format.

Why is it Important to learn about Deaf Culture?

To get aware about the deaf culture is important because it allows individuals to understand themselves better, and live in a way that is unique for them. Learning about their culture helps you understand the deaf people as well what they want to tell you. Some key points of their culture are:

  • Arts
  • Theatre
  • Books of deafness
  • Cinema
  • Poem of deafness

Deafness

Deafness is known as partial or complete hearing loss. There may be two points of view to define the word “Deafness”. First is based on medical (Condition of hearing disability in which the people is unable to understand the sound common to most people). Second is important to knowledge in the context of the BDA and its membership. It defines a group of people who share a realization of the world through a force of visual input. This type of deafness is used most commonly for people who are born at deaf or in a early childhood.

Deafness can be genetic and caused by illness such as mumps, rubella, measles. Rubella occurs during pregnancy or after the child is born. Caused may occur “noise pollution ” like loud music or noisy machinery.  Depending on the cause, it can be temporary or permanent. 9 million people suffer from hearing loss and hard of hearing problem in the UK. It is 18% of the total population.

Deaf community

Deaf community means a group of people who understand and supports the same belief, ideas, interests and common goal, Deaf community people live in the same area and providing services to meet the needs of deaf children, adults, and seniors.

The deaf community is a society of deaf people, e.g., Deaf school, club, agency, they celebrate deaf events. They also include their family members who are able to hear properly. So that, they can learn their sign language as well as understand their culture.

Some child born in the deaf community in an obvious way as the children of deaf parents. 5% of the community have both deaf (parent & child). Another 5% have one parent deaf and 20% have brother and sister deaf. Other deaf members are drawn from the families where is no deafness.

Similarities of Deaf Culture and Hearing Culture

Deaf culture and hearing culture both are different because deaf people use sign language and move the body to express own opinion. Hearing behaviours are limited and less body is used to express own thought. In hearing culture communicating with each may be done through spoken language but In deaf culture, it is done through sign language.

Deaf cultureHearing culture
when people are talking to each other it is necessary to look at each other.Eye contact is not necessary while talking to each other
Imagine more pictures than wordsPeople think more of words than pictures
students understand each other easily because they are able to communicate effectively with their peers
Touching is allowed to express own feeling and thoughtsTouching is not allowed in hearing culture

Similarities of Deaf Culture and Hearing Culture

Facts of Deaf Culture

Here are some interesting facts about deaf culture. It is a set of learning of behaviours. They have own history, tradition, and culture. They have a different way of talking, understanding and sharing. People who are deaf can also drive a car, play sports, make music, and get a higher education.

Some more interesting facts about deaf culture:

  • Sign Language: The ASL (American Sign Language) is used in America and Canada, It is not universal Sign Language because most countries there have own Sign Language. American sign language is easier to understand the comparison to the British Sign Language. Sign language used for delivering the message through facial expression, body and hand movements. There is 200 signed language is used around the globe.

The ASL (American Sign Language)

  • Deaf people better drivers than those who hear. They are very attentive while driving, they focus on vehicles all around them because they are not distracted by radio and music.
  • They have their own music, films, dance, Theatre, a book of the poem. Deaf people have own forms of art. Deaf Culture artists use a specific colour to show the beauty of their culture. British comic book created by deaf artists, for example, deaf people leading their own way like Nyle DiMarco (model and actor),
  • The people can be very direct to the point of rudeness, sometimes they can be confused by how roundabout hearing people.
  • Deaf community: It is a society of deaf people, e.g., Deaf school, deaf club, Deaf agency, they celebrate deaf events. Deaf community includes hearing family members of deaf people and they learn sign language to identifying the deaf culture. It does not mean who has a hearing problem, that define a member of the deaf community. A member of the deaf community they identify “him/her” as a member of the deaf community.
  • Deaf people communication: Deaf are very direct when they are communicating. Technology has changed the culture of the deaf. When deaf people are talking they are looking at the face, not hands. Facial expression is very important for communication in sign language.

Deaf vs deaf

Two different spelling of the word “Deaf” and “deaf”. Generally, the small ”d” deaf do not consider partners with others member of the deaf community. And big “D” deaf people identify themselves as a culturally deaf and they have a strong deaf identity. They are proud to be deaf.

Small “d” people can not able to read lips but uses sign language for communication. A second person is totally deaf but able to read lips and communicates orally they come to the deaf community.

Small ‘’d’’’comes in deafness and Big ‘’’D’’ comes in deaf culture. So you can see, the big “D” and a small “d” is not confusing.

Values of Deaf Culture

Values depend upon culture an individual lives in and the behaviour, deaf people have different values than the hearing people. In this culture much more physical touch allow that means back slapping, touching more casually to understand each other while hearing the community is much more verbal and uncomfortable with touch. The main values of deaf people are the following:

  • Eye contact, when deaf people communicating they maintain eye contact, breaking the stare means as rude or uninterested, it leaves a bad impression. They learn how and when to stare at the people faces.
  • Attention: Many ways to get the attention of a deaf people like; flickering the lights, waving the hand and their peripheral view, blinking light, and hitting the floor or surface that would allow them to feel vibrations.
  • Facial Expressions: facial expression included in the grammar of ASL, facial expression using movements of eyes, face, and head.
  • Leave taking: They take a long time to say goodbye were gathering or events. They do this because they value the company and interaction with other deaf people.

Importance of Deaf Culture

The words ‘’deaf’’ means the people who lost some or all of their hearing capacity, and also refers to those who involved in the deaf culture and values. If you know ASL is such a wonderful way to impress yourself in a different culture. Deaf culture is important because it allows them they know who they are. There they learn speech and listening skills.

I think it comes as a pleasant surprise for them to be able to sign what they want rather than have to write it down and making them feel even more isolated from the hearing world. Deafness is not a disease or illness.

History

History of deaf also called deaf history, The history of deaf people has been written in hearing perceptions of deaf people, in fact, those who come from deaf community often they have lack of a hearing problem. It makes them have to communicate in a different way. People understand that the inability to hear does not mean they are not intelligent.

Deaf culture - alphabets & number

Deaf education today is much different from 150 years ago because now special schools are available for them, their children go and take education. Some deaf children attend regular classes, some spend part of the day.

AT 1000 B.C, that time the education of deaf people attracted prominent attention, That time schools generally followed the INJS’s use of a sign language to teach the deaf people. This method gives training in speech reading and articulation as a means for deaf people.

Now behaviour, values, Traditions, everything changed and improve for them a better education. Deaf people who know the ASL they proud of their history. France in 1816  to help the first school established for deaf people. Thereafter Milan ‘’Italy’’ established the school for the deaf community.

Sign Language is the most important for communicate between deaf people and deaf culture. Who knows the sign language they join a social network, local and global networks. ASL is the oldest sign language.

The political history of deaf people happened in 1880 in Milan “Italy”, It was called the second International Congress on education for deaf people. This History is known as “The Milan Conference”.

Some famous deaf people

  • Matt Hamill
  • Braam Jordaan
  • Dummy Hoy
  • Marlee Matlin

Removing Stigmas attached to Deaf Culture

Rich Communication doesn’t have to be verbal

The use of the word “disabled” is not believed by the Deaf people in America as it is considered to be “less than”- presented as if they are lacking something. Deaf people distinguish themselves as a culture. One of the ways to do so is capitalizing the word Deaf and working towards changing the attitude of America’s mainstream. They trying to remove any stigma attached to them by removing this label.

“It’s all about the perspective. If you are deaf you see the world differently. Your way of communication is different. You seek out for other Deaf people as they understand you. You don’t want to be fixed – as you don’t believe you have any disability” as said by Eileen O’Banion, Deaf Advocate.

Some Advocates have discussed “Deaf Gain”. It is a type of communication advantage afforded by only those who must use other than verbal language. This gives us an idea that the Deaf individuals enjoy more meaningful and intentional connection as they cannot hear.

Making Tough Choices

Cochlear implants can help a deaf individual to hear what’s going on around them. But some Deaf Community members are against it, especially for infants who are born without hearing. The community believes in the equality of right to choose for every individual whether they want to remain deaf or not. It also encourages parents to teach ASL as the baby’s first language. Some activists believe that choosing cochlear implants for the baby steers families away from the Deaf Culture an learning ASL. They also believe that it is the basic human right to learn the language and cognitive development through ASL. And we need to protect this basic human right.

As described by Megan Watt, author of CD’s ear blog, she lost her hearing ability at the age of two after contracting with HIB Meningitis. Today she has a bilateral cochlear implant, and she got her interest in this while having a conversation with a middle-high school teacher. Later she confessed that she was not always keen on the idea.

She was aware of the controversy regarding the cochlear implant among certain factions of Deaf Community. She also mentioned that she is really comfortable with the choice she made.

Controversies related to Deaf Culture

Studies show that every nine out of ten deaf infants are born to hearing parents. Most of them choose cochlear implant surgery as soon as they are able medically. This helps the child with speech development. But the deaf culture believes that mainstream hearing people put too much stress on spoken words. According to Deaf culture ASL is a complete language, even though they don’t produce any sound.

Autism – considering oneself superior based on the ability to hear.

Oralism – advocating or using the oral method to teach the deaf student about how to speak.

Some activists maintain that Audism and Oralism degrade ASL. It interferes with the ability of a deaf person to develop speech and listening skills.

As explained by O’Banion,”Importance of Deaf Culture is there because it allows individuals to be who they are and they can live in the way unique to them. Don’t just focus on the ears of a person, there is more to the person than whether or not they can hear.

American Sign Language(ASL)

National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders(NIDCD) suggests that ASL is the complete and complex language. It consists of the facial expression, hand movements and body language. ASL is the “backbone of the American Deaf Culture” as said by the National Association of the Deaf(NAD).

O’Banion said “People not familiar with ASL think that it is English and hand gestures. But it is not. As spoken words are different based on countries and regions, so is singing.”

The origin of ASL is still not clear, but some say it was about 200 years ago and evolved over time. Like many other modern languages, Sign language also has a different accent, rhythm, word order, rules of pronunciation and grammar. Some members of the deaf culture are so versed in ASL that they can identify that when a person has learned ASL by observing the way they sign.

Communicating with the Deaf Person

If you want to communicate with a deaf person, you no need to know ASL. Rochester Institute of Technology developed a tip sheet to give five guidelines to communicate with the deaf person.

  1. One should acknowledge the fact that first attempt to communicate with a deaf person will be really uncomfortable and awkward. This will be the interaction progress.
  2. Using pen and paper will be ok. Your efforts will be appreciated even more by the deaf person if you use a combination of communication methods such as hand movements, facial expression, and written words.
  3. Take your time to connect and communicate. Communication is considered the investment of time and effort. Be slow while communicating with a deaf person and ask for clarification if required.
  4. Vision is the most important tool for a deaf person as they listen with their eyes. They use their vision to communicate and receive information. So maintain eye contact while speaking, even if they are using the interpreter as maintaining eye contact is a sign of respect.
  5. Beginning and ending of the conversation can be used as an opportunity to make physical(if appropriate) and visual contact with the Deaf person. Especially if they are using an interpreter during the conversation.

That’s all on our behalf. Give us your opinion & view by commenting below. If you wish to avail our help services, please dial our toll-free number 1800-121-4408 or visit our hearing clinic.

More useful article to read

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Deaf Culture & Community: (Aspects, Value & Importance)
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