Deaf Culture #9

Deaf people should wear contrasting colors in order for people to see their signs?

Not necessarily.  In general, this rule applies to an interpreter, or a Deaf individual that will be giving a presentation to a large crowd.  As you can guess, it is usually easier to see signs with a solid, contrasting background when watching from a distance.  Those times, however, are somewhat rare, and normal clothes are perfectly fine for everyday interactions.

How do people become deaf?

There are lots of ways that a person can become deaf, and the most common ways are illness and injury.  Because neither illness nor injury has any effect on your genetic material, you can imagine that heredity is the least common way for a person to become deaf.  As previously discussed, 90% of deaf children have hearing parents.  The remaining 10% are deaf children that were born to deaf parents, and most are deaf due to a genetic abnormality.  This being the case, there is a fair chance that they will pass their deafness on to their own children.  This type of hereditary deafness is somewhat of a legacy in the Deaf Community.  Those involved in multi-generational deafness are seen as a “dynasty” and regarded as superior.  This hierarchy is much like the “old money” families in the South.

How do people learn American Sign Language? (From other deaf, from a book, from

The easiest, and by far the best way to learn ASL is from, of course!  Learning ASL from other Deaf is also quite effective, and learning ASL from a book is possible, but much more difficult.  ASL is a 3 dimensional language, and it is difficult to get a feel for the movements of the language from the pages of a book.  It is also nearly impossible to start to understand someone else that is signing without seeing them physically use the language.  Learning from other deaf is a wonderful way to learn, as you gain exposure to both the language, and the culture.  However, in our busy day-to-day lives, is the best of both worlds.  It offers the ease and accessibility of a book, as well as the exposure and culture of language interaction.

Text messaging is a popular way to communicate among the deaf?

Text messaging is the single greatest advantage that has come to the Deaf community in recent memory.  Now, with texting being so prevalent, Deaf individuals can do everything from conversing with friends and colleagues, to talking to their child’s teacher, to scheduling a doctor’s appointment.  Video phone is wonderful for a long chat with a friend, or something that cannot be completed via text or in person, but is often inaccessible outside of the home.  This was a distinct disadvantage to the Deaf community until the implementation and widespread use of texting.  Now, members of the Deaf Community are equally as accessible as those in the Hearing Community.

The term, “Deaf and Dumb” is not acceptable?

This is true.  The terms “Deaf and Dumb”, “Deaf-Mute”, or referring to someone as a “Mute” are all unacceptable by today’s standards.  Most people prefer being simply “Deaf”, or depending on their hearing loss, “Hard of Hearing”.  If you have a hard time remembering the correct term, simply ask yourself if you would like to be referred to as “dumb”.  The answer, most likely, is no.