Deaf Culture #8

How do you reference a person who is not in the same room while you are signing? (Point to a specific location in front of you)?

If the person that you are referring to is not in the room, you can point to a specific location in front of you.  By doing so you “set them up” or assign them that spot.  This makes it easy to continue to refer to the person by simply pointing to the place where you set them up.  Wherever you put them is where they will stay until you change topics in the conversation, or you assign them somewhere else.  You can also set up more than one person at a time.  A cautionary word, the more people you set up, the harder it is to remember who was where!

All deaf people sign ASL?

All of those who live in America do not speak English, those who have lost a limb do not always have a prosthetic, and all deaf people do not use ASL.  Each person adapts to their environment differently, which is what makes us all unique individuals.  The decision to use ASL or any other form of communication is partially that of those who raised or are raising the deaf individual, as well as the individual’s personal preference.  Some may begin their lives lip reading, or communicating by writing, and then eventually decide that they would prefer to learn ASL.  The opposite is also true.  Some people may never master the art of ASL and find it easier to follow different avenues of communication.  There are also many different styles of ASL, as well as different skill levels.  So it is important to remember that just because someone is deaf, does not mean that they can sign.

Most deaf people attend a residential program?

Much to the Deaf Community’s dismay, this is not true.  The residential programs are by far the preferred method of learning in the Deaf Community, but due to tuition constraints, location, and parental preference, attending a residential school is often impossible.  Most students attend what is referred to as a “mainstream” program.  This usually consists of the student being enrolled in a special education program, (hopefully) supplied with an interpreter, and given other accommodations to aid in their education.  In areas with a larger Deaf population, the school may have an HI (Hearing Impaired) classroom.  This functions as a place for students to get extra classroom help, improve their signing skills, learn about the tips and tools that they may need to function in a hearing world (such as how to care for their hearing aids, or how to use an FM system), and to socialize with other deaf students.

Deaf schools tend to be the cultural hub of the Deaf Community?

Schools, in general, are a cultural hub, however Deaf schools are even more so.  While hearing children are exposed to different cultural norms throughout their everyday lives, many deaf children are surrounded by hearing people and know few, if any, other deaf.  This makes the attending a residential school even more important.  Not only are these children getting a quality education in their first language, they are learning to socialize with others, learning independence and self-advocacy, “how” to be deaf, and also have access to positive adult Deaf role models.  Like any school, many lasting friendships are formed as a young adult, and even more so at a residential school where you actually live with your classmates.  Although there may be some downfalls, attending a residential school has a huge positive impact on the rest of a deaf child’s life.

Cochlear Implants are not acceptable in the Deaf Community?

As discussed in the Deaf Culture Quiz #4, Cochlear Implants are not widely accepted among the Deaf community.  It is worth reiterating, however, that the person with the Cochlear Implant is not looked upon negatively, or treated as an outcast.  Instead, it is the idea of the implant in general, and the parent’s tendency to force their children to get the implant.  Aside from being an unaccepted practice, the surgery is extensive and painful, and it is documented that most people who receive an implant are plagued with headaches that do not ease until the implant is turned off.  It is also worth noting that this is a touchy subject within the community.  Much like discussing politics or religion, it is usually unwise to enter in to a discussion with a Deaf person about Cochlear Implants until you know that person quite well.