Deaf Culture Essay

615 Words3 Pages
Culture is the shared ideas and values of a group of people. Deaf people, like hearing people have their own culture, separate from the culture of hearing people. The American Deaf culture, like all cultures has four components: language, behavioral norms, values and traditions. For the Deaf culture, vision plays a major role in all four components, since deaf people rely strongly on their vision to communicate and gather information. The language of the deaf community is ASL. ASL is a visual language that has no vocal component, but instead uses the placement, shape and movement of the hands, as well as facial expressions and body movements to convey information. Like any spoken language, ASL is a language with its own unique grammar rules and syntax. It is not a signed representation of English. Much like the many languages spoken all over the world, different regions have their own dialects. Like all languages, ASL is a living language and is subject to change over time (NAD, What is ASL?; Gallaudet, About American Deaf Culture). Behavioral norms in the Deaf community are all heavily based on vision as well. When signing, Deaf people always maintain eye contact, this is important because people who are Deaf read facial expressions and body language to gain additional information. Common ways to get the attention of a deaf person involve either tapping them on the shoulder, or flashing the lights in the room to get the attention of everyone there. Generally, when members of the Deaf community meet for the first time, they will hug instead of shaking hands like in the hearing world, and when they introduce themselves they will share their connection to the Deaf community (Gallaudet, About American Deaf Culture; Minnesota DHS, Deaf Culture). The most dominant cultural pattern in the United States is individualism, the hearing world places emphasis on privacy and
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