https://www.duolingo.com/Usagiboy7

A look into Deaf culture

I attend an ASL (American Sign Language) club and sometimes attend Deaf events. One thing that has come up from time to time is the notion that, "It's not hearing loss, it's deaf gain." Something that seems strange to some of my hearing friends, who view deafness as a disability, a loss of hearing, that it is something to be fixed. But from a Deaf perspective, deafness isn't something that's broken, it's something to be celebrated.

Today a cool video came through my FB stream on this very topic, so I thought I would share it. It's in ASL, but there are subtitles. It's from a television show called [Switched At Birth](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Switched_at_Birth_(TV_series) ^_^

Video

Disclaimer: I'm a hearing person myself. Just passing on things that my Deaf friends send me, tell me, or post through FB.

April 19, 2016

32 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/kimonocrazy

ASL is the first language I learned after English and it helped me to find my identity. I grew up having hearing loss, but not enough to be called Hearing or Deaf, so when I found you could me Hard-of-hearing, I was so thrilled that I excepted this identity whole heatedly. I am now in my third year of college studying to be a sign language interpreter. Through ASL I have come to love learning languages and I am currently trying to master both Polish and Serbian. I plan to learn more langauges like Italian, French, Russian, Hungary, Bulgarian, Irish, Scott-Gaelic, Welsh, Ukrainian, and Finnish. Maybe learn even more languages, I don't know. I feel that just because I have hearing loss and wear hearing aids it doesn't mean I can't do whatever I put my mind to.

April 19, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/TrueAngelBeats

WHAT IF DUOLINGO STARTED TO FIGURE OUT A WAY TO TEACH ASL THAT WOULD BE SO AMAZING!!!!!!!!!

April 19, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/marzman

I would try that course even though nobody in my family or friends is deaf. I think the reversed is easy, and with the app for mobile where there is a lot less typing it should be doable too.

April 19, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/Hyllning

I've thought of that, as well. Perhaps if they had use of a camera to track what motions a user is doing with their hands and body, and mark that correct. But other than that, only matching pictures, since there's no translating other than that. And about the cameras, most spammers would just use the camera for inappropriate things.

April 19, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/CodyORB

Also, the software of Duolingo would probably not be able to handle all the pictures/video that would be needed for the course, as well.

Each sentence would require 7-12 seconds of video, most likely, and with thousands of sentences, that would need astronomical amounts of memory.

April 19, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/VWieVendetta

I don't think that it's feasible to have it recognize user video, but it wouldn't take a /ton/ of storage to fit all of them for the course, esp if the gifs/videos are optimized, it would prob take like 10, or 20 Mb max (and they don't even need audio!), and then that times 2000 is like 40 Gb. I would be surprised if Duolingo didn't have that storage available

April 19, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/TrueAngelBeats

those are valid points but, it was just a what if thought and me just using my imagination

April 21, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/MardiMonkey

You could just have a bunch of those little ASL flash cards picture things. I know it still won't solve the problem, but...

April 21, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/kimonocrazy

Also would need to see our face because facial expression is an important part of sign language

April 19, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/Hyllning

Ah, yes. That as well.

April 19, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/MardiMonkey

Because sometimes you mouth words as part of the sign.

April 21, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/jimnicholson

Something using XBOX Kinect might work well.

April 20, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/WildSage

I love Switched at Birth. Also, I love all your posts about Deaf culture.

Have you ever seen the documentary Sound and Fury? It follows two families who are exploring cochlear implants for their kids. And looks at Deaf identity and the pressures put on parents of Deaf children to "fix" their child.

April 19, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/Usagiboy7

Thanks, I'm glad that people are receptive to and enjoying these posts.

I believe I have seen it. If not, I've watched something similar that came through facebook. It certainly seems like a very personal choice and yes, like there are pressures coming from various directions.

April 19, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/lizsue

At http://www.metafilter.com/92355/Cochlear-Implant#3111420 , user "le morte de bea arthur" gives some information about it in the United Kingdom's Deaf culture (there's more than one Deaf culture! :) ).

I've been involved in a minor way for many years with a charity that works with families of people undergoing cochlear impant surgery. So I've met loads of kids and adults with the implants. There's definitely a case for early implantation; the kids who get them early go on to speak and hear really well, even if that hearing would sound kind of like a vocoder to someone used to 'normal' hearing. For adults it's much harder to 'learn' hearing; I know one woman who had the implant in her 60s, and although she's really happy with the improvement, it can still be challenging for other hearing people to communicate effectively with her.

Initially here in the UK there was a lot of hostility from the deaf community towards cochlear implants. There were protests. Parents were accused of mutilating their children. Even 'See Hear', the BBC's magazine programme for deaf and hearing-impaired people, took a really negative stance. It's important to undertstand that the deaf community is much more than just a group of people sharing a disability - it's a distinct cultural group in many ways. Having your own language does that, and that language was seen to be under threat of extinction. Politics ensued.

The good news, at least to my mind, is that people in the deaf community are, on the whole, getting much more understanding towards parents who are choosing to have their children undergo implant surgery. Yes, cochlear implants are a threat to the continuity of deaf culture, but so are ordinary hearing aids, and so was the ear trumpet. Once the message got through that no, this is not a cure-all for all types of deafness, this is a high-tech hearing aid that can, in some cases, give an otherwise completely deaf person the ability to hear on a basic level, and that just like any other hearing aid, there's an 'off' switch, people started to relax a little. Probably the biggest factor in this softening of attitudes has been the emergence of a generation of young people with cochlear implants who coexist happily in both the deaf and hearing communities.

April 19, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/Usagiboy7

It [cochelar implants] is such a touchy subject that, as a hearing person, if I advocated implants I'd have to seriously question how much of my advocacy was originating from audism.

April 19, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/Theron126

Looking at your comment - perhaps I'm audist then. Because I do feel that hearing - at least having the option to be able to hear - is preferable to deafness. I would recommend it, just as I would recommend learning a second language - it allows to you communicate in completely new ways and experience completely new things (does feeling that being bilingual is better than being monolingual make me a linguist?). If this technology gives deaf people the opportunity to experience so much that they can't without it, why would you not recommend it?

April 20, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/lizsue

Also, having the ability to hear, and even having a native spoken language, themselves don't stop someone from having a native sign language too.

Hence the people growing up sharing both a native language with their hearing families and a native language with their local Deaf culture. :)

Also hence the people sharing both a native language with their Deaf parents and a native language with their local hearing culture. :)

April 21, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/nyCnz

Wow! I think I may even practice ASL myself : )

April 19, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/Sgt.Hammer

My deaf neighbors never complain when I hammer.

I heard a rumor that you were deceased.

April 19, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/EYF2003

cool! never heard of that before that people "celebrate" being deaf

April 19, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/DragonPolyglot

It's very interesting. A lot of Deaf people like being themselves. In my perspective, that is a strong thing to believe in; yourself.

April 19, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/EYF2003

i never realized that

April 19, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/Himawari34

This is really interesting, thank you for sharing! ^^ I now want to watch Switched At Birth

April 19, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/Portofan

I don't know, but maybe "celebrating deafness" is just a manifestation of the normal human strategy to cope with a severe problem by neglecting it, trying to discuss it away, finding positive aspects in it etc.

April 20, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/Usagiboy7

I think the problem is that hearing people have created a world that excludes deaf people.. There was a place called Martha's Vinyard where hearing people fully integrated with deaf people.

Martha's Vineyard Sign Language (MVSL) was a village sign language once widely used on the island of Martha's Vineyard off the coast of Massachusetts, U.S., from the early 18th century to 1952. It was used by both deaf and hearing people in the community; consequently, deafness did not become a barrier to participation in public life. Martha's Vineyard Sign Language played a role in the development of American Sign Language.

April 20, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/thwain

There is a book titled "Everyone Here Spoke Sign Language" by Nora Ellen Groce. The book relates the details of a sociological study. The community involved originated in a single village in England and pretty much moved as a whole to the American colonies. If I remember correctly, about 50% of the community was deaf and there was no stigma attached to being deaf so marriage between deaf and hearing individuals was the norm. The sign language they used originated in England and was completely different than ASL, which is derived from French sign language. The Wikipedia page you cited doesn't match up with what I remember about the history of the development of ASL. The sign language used on Martha's Vineyard did not play much of a role in the development of ASL. MVSL was part of that community and would have been used for educating the children locally with no need to send them to a deaf school. The demise of the MVSL was the Alexander Graham Bell oral school system. The government stepped in and had the kids sent to boarding schools where they were discouraged from using sign language of any sort. The kids would meet their future spouses at the school, and would not return to the island. Since the deafness was genetic and the people carrying the responsible gene were removed from the community, the incidence of deafness on Martha's Vineyard decreased until there was no longer a need for the sign language and it eventually died out.

April 20, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/mattcolor

Unfortunately the link trick doesn't work when the address ends with closing parentheses. There might be other ways, but I usually use TinyURL as a workaround. Switched At Birth

April 20, 2016

[deactivated user]

    Love the series Switched At Birth (may not be appropriate for all ages), my friend has finished the series, and she started ASL after finishing them. ASL seems very fun, and it's like a whole new world. (Switched at Birth is on Netflix.)

    April 19, 2016

    https://www.duolingo.com/JohnVoltage819

    My mom watches that show! : )

    April 19, 2016

    https://www.duolingo.com/Lingophilic

    I've been learning ASL for a few years now and I can say that I've used it more than any other language that I've learned. It's a very unique language with a very unique culture, and I'm really glad I immersed myself in it.

    April 19, 2016
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