Identity by Tayler

The word “culture” means everything to me. The culture I will always put first is my Deaf culture. What is Deaf culture, you may ask? Well, there’s tons of aspects and rules so I’ll try to keep it short and sweet.

Deaf culture is valued in the Deaf community. Our language is American Sign Language, (ASL). Deaf people often have ASL as their first language and English as their second language. It’s highly known that hearing families don’t sign with their children, which is frowned upon because communication doesn’t happen in the family between the Deaf child(ren) and adults. It also doesn’t show acceptance of who the Deaf person is. We (as Deaf people) miss so much without access to ASL if it’s not being used around us. All Deaf children/adults should have ASL as their first language.

A benefit in the Deaf community (We have MANY), is that often when Deaf people meet, we instantly become family because the Deaf world versus the hearing world is small. We feel at home because we relate to experiences and feel connected. We all understand each other. We are proud to be Deaf.

Hearing people often come up to us and ask these…

-“Why can’t you just talk?”

-“Why can’t you just use hearing aids or cochlear impacts so you can hear us?”

They also often stare at us when we’re signing or mock us by smacking their hands in our faces to mock ASL.

We don’t often want to talk or use hearing devices because it’s exhausting and it’s accommodating for the hearing world. It’s also because it’s our choice, our body, and our culture. Sure, some people want to wear hearing devices, talk, and use ASL all at once which is their choice. Deaf and Hard of Hearing people can make their own choices. We shouldn’t be forced to talk or be forced to wear hearing devices. All we ask for is respect and acceptance of our choices.  

Another benefit is that we are able to talk through clear glass. What is that? Well, for example..you know how hearing people if they aren’t in the same room with each other, they often have to shout and often the conversation is not clear? With Deaf people, we just use ASL through clear glass (such as windows), and the conversation flows smoothly? Cool, right?

Deaf people often hang out with each other on holidays because their hearing families often don’t sign. Unless they have Deaf families. It’s because there is a lot of talking and we often miss 98% of the conversation. If we ask what was said, hearing people often say “It’s not important” or “I’ll tell you later” and they don’t try to write it down or type it into their phones..which is highly insulting. We want to be involved. So it’s easier to have someone else that’s Deaf so we can have an easy conversation using ASL.

Deaf people often always can chat for hours and hours because we never run out of things to talk about. We love sharing stories and catching up with each other. We love spending time together. We’re family.

Anyways, there are so many more aspects and rules in Deaf culture and the community. I would explain it’s all, but it would be a book length long blog. If you’re hearing and reading this..please, if you want to learn more…ask. Asking is always the best method. Even learning a bit of ASL and going up to a Deaf person and trying their best to make conversation..it means the world to us. We want hearing people to get engaged and learn our culture and language so we can stop the barrier between Deaf and hearing people.

BY TAYLER – NATIONAL PARK SERVICE INTERN

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