Ever since it opened, Atascocita High School has been proud of the diversity of its unique students and staff. This diversity includes not only factors like race and religious background, but culture and lifestyle as well. For the last week of September, we dedicate our attention to one very beautiful culture present at our school: Deaf culture.
For those who do not know, being Deaf means more than just a lack of hearing. It means community, acceptance, and a powerful set of shared values. The word deaf in itself, of course, technically means “can’t hear.” When capitalized, however, being Deaf refers to being culturally Deaf, or part of the Deaf community. Deaf individuals who fit into this category do not see themselves as disabled, but are rather empowered by and proud of being Deaf.
Culturally Deaf people tend to share similar values and often have some specific personality traits due to this. For instance, many would consider most Deaf people to be fairly blunt and straight forward. Although typically used by Americans, American Sign Language is a language that avoids beating around the bush. Since this is true, Deaf Americans avoid doing so as well. This may come off as harsh to some, but the honest nature of the Deaf community is considered quite refreshing by those involved in it.
Along with being blunt, Deaf people typically have an innate love for communication. Despite its name, the Deaf community entails more than just Deaf individuals. In fact, the community even holds Deaf events where they meet up in their area to join together and communicate in sign language. Anyone, whether Deaf, Hard of Hearing, or completely hearing, are invited to be a part of this group. Hearing individuals fluent in or learning ASL have most likely experienced the love of communication the Deaf community often possesses. For instance, it may take additional time to leave a Deaf event due to what is often referred to as “the Deaf goodbye.” This refers to a drawn out goodbye that often takes place in the community because of how much Deaf people enjoy carrying out conversations.
As mentioned before, the culturally Deaf typically embrace who they are. Contrary to popular belief, terms commonly used to describe them, such as hearing-impaired, handicapped, or one that many might even find comedic, hearing-challenged, are not what should be used to identify the Deaf. The only appropriate term, one that many for some reason try avoiding, is Deaf. Terms like the examples provided above are not only incorrect, but can often be seen as somewhat offensive as well.
One important thing to understand about the Deaf is that they share strong connections, build close relationships, and have strong beliefs and views on the world around them just as hearing people do. While, unfortunately, the Deaf and hearing world often do not intertwine as much as they truly should, both hold their own beauty, and both should learn to care for and respect each other. The students and staff of Atascocita are blessed to attend a school that includes a wide variety of individuals from deaf to hard-of-hearing to completely hearing. Rather than ignoring this, we should choose to come together and embrace the differences we so beautifully share in our Atascocita community. Above all, happy Deaf Awareness Week from The AHS Talon!