Deafness, Gender, Autism… but today we’re talking about Deafness.
It’s Deaf Awareness Month, so I wanted to share a few public service announcements to help you navigate your next encounter with a Deaf person. Obviously we’re not a homogenous group and individual experiences and preferences will vary.
Learn sign language from a Deaf person. They are the fluent, native speakers, and they are the ones who have been immersed in both the language and the culture their entire lives.
Unfortunately there are a lot of hearing people out there who take a few classes, consider themselves experts, and then turn around and co-opt Deaf culture and language for their own benefit. That amounts to exploitation and cultural appropriation, please don’t support it.
Don’t learn sign from hearing people signing songs or posting cute videos online, they are probably really inaccurate or not well done, and those people are gaining off a language that isn’t theirs.
Much of the Deaf community is very welcoming and accommodating to those who don’t know sign language, as long as they are respectful of Deaf culture and people, and willing to learn. We appreciate it when you make an effort, and most people will return the kindness and consideration shown to them.
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