This vintage biography by Etta Degering, entitled GALLAUDET, Friend of the Deaf, may quite rightfully be judged by its cover. The obviously outdated design and condition of this book, first published in 1964, is unlikely to interest the modern reader. We are featuring it in our blog post today as an analogy for those who may be interested in Deaf Culture. If you have found our Web site, are reading this or following our program, etc. we hope that is you, because sign language does not live in isolation, but is a vital part of world culture.
Sure, the information in this book may not have changed much since it is a look at Gallaudet, who passed away in the 1851. Yet, who knows what information may have since come to light about this pivotal person in Deaf history? Even if nothing too new has been discovered, it is irresponsible to ignore the changes in the literary audience over the years.
Just as book publishers need to stay in touch with the pulse of humanity, it would be equally irresponsible for someone interested in making connections with the Deaf Community to overlook the ever-changing nature of the world and how it has impacted Deaf Culture. It is important to remember that Deaf Culture is as rich and vibrant as any other on earth, and deserves respect and attention. Deaf people do not live in a vacuum and should not have to bear the brunt of stereotypes from the past. Those outside Deaf Culture have a responsibility to be a part of the movement to foster better understanding.
We live in a world where information is coming at us rapidly in many different forms. As politicians, pundits and people on the street push for our attention with flashy sound bytes, it can become overwhelming at times to dissect the onslaught of messages and get to the truth. That is why it is more important than ever for people learn to be sensitive to the experience of others and find ways to authentically engage with fellow human beings.
Whatever else we may hope to accomplish, that is a main driving force for the creation of ASLdeafined.com. We sincerely believe that if you want to get to what is real in this world, go to the source. What better way to do so in this case than to take an important step toward communicating with Deaf individuals by learning American Sign Language?
If you want to know more about Gallaudet, you might read a (more recent 🙂 ) biography. If you want to better understand Deaf Culture and what life is like for a Deaf individual in the 21st Century, simply taking the time to have a conversation seems like a great start. That is why we are here to share our thoughts and encourage discussions about important topics surrounding the Deaf Community, bridging the gap between the Deaf and the hearing… One Sign At A Time.
What will you do today to bridge that gap?