As soon as you start to understand deaf people better, you will soon come across the importance of deaf communities as well as deaf culture. These two are intertwined but distinctly different from each other. To get a better understanding of the two, it is important to see where the other one stops and the other one begins.
As the name suggests, this is a community that is predominantly made up of deaf people. There are formal deaf communities that are formed sometimes through a school built specifically for the hearing-impaired. There are also informal deaf communities that starts off when deaf people gather together usually because of job opportunities or even for social purposes. These communities are not only made up of deaf people but even those that are just hard of hearing. There could also be family members and even friends that are hearing-enabled. A deaf community can also include community workers as well as interpreters to help bridge the communication gap between the deaf and hearing-enabled individuals.
These types of communities are much like any community anywhere else. They have shared values and even languages. In fact, language is one of the foundations of a deaf community as they are linked together with their specific language at the center. This community also strengthens their sense of identity as they become comfortable in finding their own way with the help and support of other people like them.
More importantly, these deaf communities have shared traditions and culture that has been shaped over time through common experiences. This culture is what sits at the heart of every community. It is what defines most, if not all of them. It can be their language that is passed down from one generation to another.
It can also embody their heritage and even history that helps shape their attitude. Apart from the norms that surround what a culture is mostly about, it also highlights one important part of any community – their identity. There can be multiple deaf communities but each one would have a different identity from the other.
Sign language is universal
At the center of any deaf community is their language but it has many usage even outside their circle. Sign language has been accepted worldwide and used in so many ways even by the hearing-enabled communities. There is a sign language for hearing-enabled babies to help their parents understand what they want. Sign language is also used in telecommunication as relays help bridge the gap between deaf and hearing-enabled individuals. The police and military also use sign language especially in crucial parts of operations where silence is key.
This goes to show that as integral as sign language is in any deaf community, it is also a beneficial language for the hearing-enabled. As language is universal and intrinsic in every community and culture, this enables equality for deaf people. It also helps bring down the walls and help lessen, if not eliminate discrimination on hearing-impaired individuals.