American Sign Language Essay 1

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Through the years of studying American Sign Language, I am constantly striving for more knowledge and information. The Deaf are a unique subculture, who on first glance may not look all that different, but once you explore deeper, you will soon find out just how different they are. The Deaf culture is fascinating. How do you adapt to a world that is drastically different from yours? When you are labeled an “outsider” in a hearing society, how do you survive? With American Sign Language, often referred to as “ASL”, Deaf members have a primary way of visually communicating with the world.

“Being unable to hear is only a part of being Deaf. To be fully included in the Deaf community, one must know or understand ASL” [1]The Deaf community consists of many labels cast upon them, from each other, as well as the hearing world. The largest label in the Deaf community is the one used to represent your state of deafness. This is done through the capitalization of the letter “D”. When signed, spoken, or written, “little d” indicates that you are indeed deaf. When in communication with another person, it indicates that you have lost your hearing, and that you are not just a person who happens to know sign language. This is of huge importance for the deaf.

“Big D” refers to the people who are involved in the deaf community and culture, and share the same values, beliefs, language and behaviors, but may or may not be profoundly deaf. These may be hearing children born to deaf parents, also known as CODA (Children of Deaf Adults), who have a connection with the deaf world, but are not deaf themselves, or it may include those who recently became deaf. It may also include those who have a great interest in the Deaf Community such as teachers, translators, hearing friends of the deaf, etc. “It is not the extent of the hearing loss that defines a member of the Deaf community, but the individuals own sense of identity and resultant actions.” The Deaf community typically...
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