Deaf Culture versus Deaf Community

Essay by xXmIeInIaIcIeIrXxA+, May 2004

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The Deaf community has a very strong body amongst themselves. They place a high emphasis on relationships. Someone who wants to become involved with the Deaf community must be willing to invest in relationships with a sincere heart. Insincerities will be noticed very quickly. These insincerities include avoiding eye contact, restlessness shown in body language, and failure to spend time to get to know the other person on a personal basis. These are all examples of habits that are accustomed to the Deaf community.

In Deaf culture, there are pretty contrasting behaviors when compared to the hearing world. Here is a table (courtesy of of some examples of these differences:

Deaf Hearing

attention getting devices: flicker the lights, stomping feet, and throwing things "Hey!"

party guests tend to congregate in the kitchen (better lighting, easier to see everyone signing) living room

long introduction rituals: where from? schools? parents? etc...

"nice to meet you"

conversation regulators: head nods and specific gestures "hmmm and uh-huh"

eye contact ear contact

facial expressions "poker face"

pointing permitted (pronouns!) pointing considered rude

hugging after introductions is common shaking hands

overstaying/long good-byes short stays/short good-byes

can "talk" with mouth full of food considered rude

misbehaving children cover eyes misbehaving children cover ears

So as you can see, being brought up in the Deaf culture creates many different habits that both sides take for granted. However, if one side tries to cross that line, it won't be long until someone notices. The main component of Deaf culture is the language. This is important because although the language is not universal, the structure appears to be worldwide. This is because of how deafness affects the way people think. People who become skilled in the language may (keyword: may) bond with the Deaf. It takes a great...