Culture is how human beings relate with each other, how they express themselves in the context of relating with others. Through culture, individuals form a group, and identify themselves as unique and in unity with each other. One distinct value that makes up the deaf culture is the ‘deaf pride’.
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Deaf people do not consider themselves disabled, instead they demand for fairness, equality and they are proud of their language. Deaf culture therefore is the tradition, social belief, behavior, history and institution of communities that use sign language as a major mode of communication because of their inability to communicate verbally. Deaf culture has mainly been obtained from schools which deal with deaf students only.
The main barrier that divides hearing people from the deaf is communication, which hinders interaction between people. For the deaf, they do not accept that they are handicapped, and for this reason they make sure that they remain independent, and that they work towards making it in the world. They encourage each other, build confidence among themselves, and ensure that they do not get discouraged.
The deaf are very straightforward in the way they communicate with each other, unlike those who hear, they appear rude because of this directness. Hearing people try to cover the truth by not highlighting the real meaning, this brings confusion in communication.
Since the deaf use the sign language, they tend to read the body language first, and get the true meaning of communication even if the words do not rhyme with the body language.
Deaf communication language is basically visual, that is, gesture based which involves; body movements, gestures, facial expression and hand shapes. The hearing people on the other hand depend on; tone variation, sound, information, volume and sometimes on expressions and body language.
Deaf music is different from the one that hearing people listen to. It is beat-based and it consists of timing, coordination and flow. The hearing music consists of melody, harmony and rhythm. The deaf organize themselves in cliques and they find it hard to allow anybody in their clique. The hearing individuals accept each other so long as they do not violate the rights of the group.
The deaf are slightly slower in learning compared to the hearing people; this is because of the concepts used in teaching them, especially when the concept is abstract. In terms of thinking, they do it differently from the normal communication people; they have to involve visual concepts. It is really hard to handle deaf students as compared to the hearing students.
Most trained students fall out of colleges because they find it hard to study the sign language. A trained person should be a link between the two worlds, which means that he should be able to understand English and be able to interpret it to the sign language.
Dealing with deaf people requires one to be knowledgeable about the deaf culture. The major area is that of communicating with them. When talking to a deaf person, one is not supposed to bend so low to the deaf person, because they get irritated and it also makes communication difficult.
When talking to a deaf person, one should be at a good position, visible and should also have good lighting so as to allow the deaf person to view every move they make clearly. In a forum where a group is involved in a communication, one person should talk at a time. If it is a board, it is important to distribute the agenda to every member of the group.
In a situation where you want their attention, you should touch the hand or tap their shoulders. If they are closer to you or in a gathering, you should use flash lights. Also, when talking to a deaf person, one needs to be patient with them, this is because they take time to conceptualize a certain sign in a given time period.
We should also minimize the wrongs that we do to them so as to reduce their anger. This may lower their esteem, which may affect their struggle in making it in the world, and also in their progress towards being self reliant.
It is very important for the normal people to study deaf culture so as to boost the interaction between the two groups. For instance, in a case of emergency, one should be able to alert all the people including the deaf effectively by learning the various signs that fit particular situations.
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It is also important for the hearing parents to know about deaf culture, so that incase they give birth to deaf children or their children become deaf after some time in life, then, they are aware of what they ought to do. Sometimes deaf children fail to get access to appropriate education for the deaf because their parents have no idea of what most educational institutions have to offer.
In most countries, education is freely given to the deaf children. It is also important to be aware of the deaf culture so as to promote communication between the deaf and the hearing people, hence ensuring that the deaf are able to participate in similar activities with those that hear. Since the deaf do not admit that they have a disability, it means they have the capability of performing like the rest.
Thus, we need to consider them as normal human beings and distribute opportunities to them without looking at them as unable to produce desirable results. They are capable people who need support and encouragement for them to stand for themselves.