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Deaf Culture and Sign Language: Social Equality in Society Essay

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Updated: Feb 27th, 2022

Description of the Deaf Culture

The Deaf culture constitutes a group of individuals who communicate using sign language. The American Sign Language (ASL) identifies hand movement, body language, and eye contact to send and receive messages (Leigh et al.). The culture is universal, though it differs from the signings used for communication. The Deaf members exchange messages using non-verbal cues of communication such as eye contact and facial expressions. It is worth noting that Deaf members do not use verbal communication, popular in normal conversations and discussions. Membership also includes individuals with a different communication framework but similar in basic needs as other human beings. Most importantly, the ASL Level 1 course has facilitated an accurate understanding and respect of the Deaf culture as a means of enhancing social equality in diverse societies.

Moreover, the National Association of the Deaf (NAD) considers cultural diversity objective for societal growth in contemporary and diverse communities. The ASL Level 1 course has been instrumental in recognizing cultural differences between Deaf members and ordinary individuals (Leigh et al.). Diversity in communication includes sign language involving hand, body, and facial expressions entailing the combinations with varying messages. People with distinct abilities to communicate using non-verbal techniques are perceived as more advantageous in social interaction than those without such skills. The culture, additionally, requires ethical integration when individuals are interacting with the members of the Deaf society (Leigh et al.). For instance, shaking hands is vital for ending conversations with an agreement or concession. The NAD encourages people to depict respect during non-verbal communication (Leigh et al.). ASL Level 1 has provided useful information regarding the Deaf culture.

Lessons Learned on Deaf Societies in the Other Lands

There are several lessons which can be learned regarding Deaf societies located globally. Minority populations are found universally, the culture has members from different countries and continents (Leigh et al.). As a result, they have varying social attributes of communication, which require integration for accurate exchange of information between two Deaf members. For instance, European signers use unique hand movement combinations with facial expressions different from those in North America. Therefore, learning sign language should be accurate to ensure the right message is sent and interpreted correctly. Additionally, information on Deaf culture is useful when communicating with deaf people during international conferences and seminars. Essentially, diversity is a critical element for modern social growth regarding all individuals’ equal rights (Leigh et al.). Recognizing members of minority populations is instrumental in avoiding the instances of social marginalization and discrimination.

Understanding Deaf culture aids in achieving social harmony with people communicating using sign language. Traditionally, individuals from this community have been categorized as physically challenged. The description places them on the same level as the blind or the individuals born with walking difficulties (Leigh et al.). Practically, these people are treated differently from other members and given priority over others when seeking social services. However, the ASL identifies Deaf society as a culture with a different message exchange from regular verbal communication in conversations and discussions. As a result, the culture has a political agenda evidenced in the needs critical for social growth (Leigh et al.). For instance, the distribution of academic resources entails adopting a relevant curriculum developed by the community’s intellectual elites. Most importantly, the Deaf societies in other countries constitute a minority population which requires similar equality status as the NAD members (Leigh et al.). The information exchange tradition among the Deaf is critical for collective social growth in diverse communities.

A Reflection on ASL Level 1 Class

The ASL Level 1 class changed my viewpoints regarding the Deaf culture and sign language. For instance, I used to believe that people with hearing challenges are physically disabled. As a result, their needs are special and they should be treated with special status over other individuals. However, the knowledge acquired regarding Deaf culture has been useful in transforming misinformed diversity perspectives by ensuring an accurate understanding of non-verbal communication (Leigh et al.). I used to believe that sign language was only preserved for the individuals with hearing challenges. Sending non-verbal messages between two Deaf members seemed as a complex model of exchanging information. This view has changed as other people can learn how to interact with these individuals. ASL Level 1 has been critical in acquiring the basic skills and techniques required to achieve fluency (Leigh et al.). The Deaf members achieve social growth in diverse societies through accurate and objective communication.

Most importantly, ASL Level 1 has been useful in ensuring social and moral respect to the Deaf culture members. Traditionally, it was common to make different body movements indicating sign language to peers. Some people would make combinations of body and hand movements interpreting the lack of respect to deaf people. The class on sign language has been useful in changing misinformed actions against individuals from minority populations. It is through objective social recognition of individuals that one enhances moral respect among diverse communities. The ASL Level 1 class has improved my perspective on the cultural significance of the Deaf community. In essence, the course highlights the presence of minority populations who require social integration in contemporary societies. It is evidenced when important public communication is made through news media. Consequently, sign language is instrumental for ensuring the accurate exchange of information with the deaf members of society.

Work Cited

Leigh, Irene W., et al. Deaf Culture: Exploring Deaf Communities in the United States. Plural Publishing, 2020.

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