The Deaf Community

            Being deaf is essentially considered one of the hardest things in the world. There are many challenges that a person goes through. This does not however mean that deaf people should live a sad and miserable life. It does not mean that we should not have fun. We are human beings too and we do desire the same things that hearing people do. Many people misunderstand the deaf community. This is probably because they have not taken the time to learn about them. It would be good for people who have no problem hearing to learn about those who have hearing disabilities. This would create a good relationship between the two groups and eventually avoid some embarrassing situations such as when a person seems to be shouting or exaggerating how they speak in the hope that the deaf people will hear them better.

The Deaf community is a very protective group. Many deaf people are born to hearing parents. They only socialize when they get an opportunity to join school where they meet with other deaf individuals. The Deaf culture is like a family. The members do not see themselves as handicapped or hearing impaired. They are normal people who do normal things when they are together. The Deaf community accepts everyone who accepts himself or herself as they are. In other words, they do not encourage those who view themselves as handicapped.

It is a good thing for a person to try to make his or her life better. However, this should not rob the person of his or her identity. Some deaf people are ashamed of who they are. They try to do everything in their power so that they can be accepted by people who do not have any hearing problems. This is sad because then, they will never really learn that deafness is a part of them and will never cease to regard themselves as somewhat equally individuals in the wider societal context. A deaf person who behaves like a hearing person is signed hearing on the forehead by other deaf people. This as Halpern (1996) notes is often considered as sign of insult or cajoling. Ironically, the Deaf community still welcomes people who have no problems with hearing. However, this person has to be identified as hearing.

The Deaf community often utilize principles and language tenets adopted from the American Sign Language. This communication paradigm is viewed as tantamount to joining or associating with the Deaf community (Transcultural Nursing, 2008). Contrary to popular belief, deaf people are not in themselves dull and although their language is different, they engage in activities such as going to the theater and watching plays. Because their language is visual, the actors have to express clear and distinguished facial expressions and other body gestures. The weakness of sign language is that it is not universal. American Sign Language is used in America and Canada. The British have their own sign language and so do other people around the world. Critics argue that this could be the reason why individual deaf communities appear isolated within the socio-cultural context perceivably predisposed to communication breakdown as occasioned by the different approaches to signing. People can only communicate with others in the regions where they live. This breakdown limits many people.

Another way through which communication breaks down is by the method that the deaf choose to communicate through. Some people, even in America, do not use American Sign Language. They prefer to lip read and others prefer to learn speech. This greatly reduces the chances of people having meaningful conversations and again increases the chances of communication breakdown. It is a sad thing to note that there are people who disregard others because they do not use American Sign Language. They forget that people have the choice to decide what they would want to utilize as a communication medium.

Another thing that can cause communication breakdown within the deaf community is deaf pride. As noted earlier, there are people who readily accept that they are deaf. They have learned to live like that and they do not know any other life. On the other hand, there are others who become deaf when they are adults as a result of sickness. These people will try everything that they can to gain back their hearing capability. There are others who although having been deaf for a long period, they still want to try anything to find a cure. The last two groups face a lot of prejudice from the first group. They are usually accused of not accepting who they are and doing things just so that they can please the ‘hearing people’. This causes a perceived communication breakdown between them. While some problems such as sign language not being universal cannot easily be avoided, there are others, which can be solved or in turn prevented. The best thing would be for people in the Deaf community to accept everyone. This is what other people do and this is how people contend with each other.

Communication breakdown does not only occur in the Deaf community but in other communities as well. Some of the reasons might be different but most seem to fit the conventional explanations to contra-norms in the society. For instance, there are people who do not communicate with others because they belong to a different class. When a person is living with other people, it is advisable for him or her to have an open mind. This is because people are very different. They have different personalities and one cannot be expected to contend with every one.

A college is not one big language community. It is made up of different, smaller language communities. The only reason why people would seem to have a common language is that they attend the same lectures and they go to the same institution; conclusively they are commonly linked in the institution through association. There are so many things, which would place people together, and they would seem to be speaking the same language. Religion is a good example of this. People who have the same belief seem to be speaking the same language. They understand each other clearly and they have much in common. Other things such as sports can also be considered as languages that conceptualize single communities.

With this in mind, it is possible for someone to have more than one language. Just like people learn foreign languages and are conversant in more than one language, people can also have different languages in a college setting. The different subjects and units that a person covers can also be considered as languages. The language that is used in studying something like chemistry is not the same language that will be used when studying biology. History and biology are two disciplines, which are very different. History is a discipline, which makes a person go back in time. It explains how things came to be the way they are and it gives current solutions based on past problems. This is important because it helps people to avoid repeating mistakes. History again teaches that it is up to the individual to accept or reject its teachings. The study of biology on the other hand involves studying the human anatomy. Unlike history, a person is able to see and immediately relate to what is being taught since what is taught concerns present understanding of concepts. In biology, a person has no option but to accept what it teaches. History and biology adds value to the learning experience. As mentioned above, both are important.

The African American community has come a long way. From the time when they were subjected to slavery until now, they have persistently fought for their rights. They have undergone all manners of mistreatment and they still overcome the challenges that they are exposed to or have experienced. The African Americans are sometimes referred to as black Americans. The majority are descendants from Africans who were brought to work as slaves while others are immigrants from African countries. Other regions such as the Caribbean, West Indies, Australia and some countries in South America also have blacks. The term African American can therefore be misleading.

In 1863, the then president Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, which ensured that slaves were freed in the north. In 1865, slavery was outlawed in the United States. Although slavery was later abolished, things did not change much and the black Americans were still denied their rights. They were not seen as equal to the white Americans and they were regarded a little lower than Hispanics were. In 1868, they were given full citizenship and two years later, the men were allowed to vote. This was a major step in the right direction.

The unequal treatment changed in the mid to late 20th century during the civil war movement. That was the most passionate time for the black community. They were ready to risk their lives for the sake of future generations. Their tenacity ensured that they were finally recognized. In 1954, the laws, which encouraged segregation, were abolished. However, the change occurred gradually. They had to grapple with fewer opportunities for education and face racial prejudice. After they were allowed to attend formal public schools, they had to compete for low paying jobs with other minorities such as Asians. This competition did not cause hatred. They both collaborated in business and helped each other (Taylor, 1994).

The coming up of groups such as the Ku Klux Klan made things worse. They believed in white supremacy and they made sure that they tortured the blacks so that they (the whites) could have their way. Even in the midst of all these, the blacks were determined to succeed. They sought work as waiters and the men looked for work at the railway line construction sites. Some were employed as maids (or what is commonly referred to as housekeepers today) to the wealthy white Americans.

All was not gloom however as there are those who succeeded and made a name for themselves. These achievements were not experienced by everybody though. At one point it seemed that for every step the black community took forward, they took two backwards. The black community was growing rapidly and most of them were moving from perceivably white dominated settings to black dominated places. They formed black neighborhoods, schools, churches and businesses. They formed a community. This made them progress.

Even when they were facing racial discrimination and were treated badly, they defended each other. Soon many started going to school. They developed an interest in learning and in business. They started competing with the whites and they succeeded. They developed other areas of interest such as entertainment. They perfected the arts and they also excelled in it. Today they are trendsetters in the entertainment industry in the United States. They also developed interests in politics. In 1989, three people succeeded in gaining top positions in the government after being elected by the people. Presently, the country is led by an African American president.

The whole experience has been a revelation to me. There are times when I will face problems but I should not give up. The blacks used their problems to their advantage and I should do the same. Though they were hated because they were different, they did not give up. Things have now changed and it is not uncommon to see interracial marriages taking place, something that was once unthinkable. Just as there are deaf people who see their condition as a disability, there are black people who refused to corporate with their people. They were opposed to the changes that the black people were fighting for and they did not see the need to change anything. Some of them were even labeled traitors.

They were those who reported the slaves who wanted to escape and they were those who joined in the war to fight against their fellow black men who were looking for an end to slavery. After the victory, the traitors were probably embarrassed and ashamed because of what they had done. There are people such as Martin Luther King Junior and others who will always be celebrated because of what they achieved. In my community, Helen Keller is one such example. In addition, there are those who always do their part to make the world a better place to live in and those deserve celebration. They might be the parents who do everything to ensure that their child is okay or the teacher who makes sure that once the deaf child comes to school, he or she will fit in and will find a community and a family.


Works cited:

Halpern, Carla. “Listening in on Deaf Culture”. 1996. Web. 15 July 2010.

Transcultural Nursing. “The Deaf Culture”. Transcultural Nursing, 2008. Web. 15 July 2010.

Taylor, Quintard.  The Forging of a Black Community: Seattle’s Central District, from 1870 through the Civil Rights Era. University of Washington Press. 1994. Print






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