vlogblog about a new term for Deaf culture
[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/f_zVNz6NdeE" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]
Discussion of why the word ‘d/Deaf’ can be problematic and examination of other options when describing our culture.
folks have been proposing new terms for Deaf culture or re-introducing old ones.
first i wanna thank them for doing this – it takes courage to propose ideas while it takes very little effort to cast stones
i want to discuss two things:
1. the term d-e-a-f
2. having any new term follow an organic and natural conceptualization
1. the term d/Deaf is somewhat problematic
a. deaf or Deaf will forever mean to the medical community a DEFICIT, a DEFICIENCY, and an ABNORMALITY. it is a medical condition
now granted some doctors may acknowledge a cultural component also but in general for the majority of society ALL OVER THE GLOBE – deaf means can NOT hear – ‘NOT’ being the central word not ‘can’ – this is deficit model
even the ASL sign ‘ear-mouth’ meaning ‘deaf-mute’ is an can NOT indicator and not a CAN approach (deficit model). Veditz used the term “people of the eye” which i think is an additive model
i am not trying to deny that d/Deaf people can not hear. im only trying to examine that coming from a medical / ‘can’t ‘center carries a stigma and in some folk’s minds a duty to correct, fix, improve, save..
we know historically other groups were saddled with words that developed a stigma and connotation that became shackles – the N word (which originally was used to mean a black slave) – if u read slave narratives, African-Americans use this term regularly – always with the concept that this was an “owned person”
thankfully today it is rejected by most people in society. some whites still use it and some African-Americans have tried to reclaim it in a weird twisted way by using it on each other for status and power assertion or “just to be funny” but most African-Americans reject the term – hence the NAACP had a funeral ceremony for the N word. may it rest in peace
so they tried on other terms such as Black and African-American – it seems both r generally accepted today and neither has really come out the winner / preferred term. I have not taken any specific courses in Black or African-American studies and i generally see universities use either term. if anyone has any knowledge in this area it would be appreciated
The terms negro and coloreds were commonly used in our society but were rooted in a stigma of being dirty, insufficient, inferior etc. There have been many writings in the past and not so distant past trying to assert the intellectual inferiority of African-Americans
the word d/Deaf will always be used by d/Deaf people – i would never advocate for abandoning it but when talking of a culture, it might be wise to consider other option as well since the dominant culture continues use and abuse d-e-a-f as we have seen done with negro, coloreds, and the ‘n’ word
words (spoken, written or signed) have power
b. the term d-e-a-f invites confusion due to the medical view and the cultural view both claiming ownership of this word. Dr. Woodward (hearing professor at Gallaudet) tried to indicate these different views by suggesting small d to reference a physical condition only and big D to mean a cultural view only. it has become generally accepted in academic publications to use D Deaf when referring to Deaf people as a people.
Within DeafRead we see vocal folks objecting to this distinction. some are calling for the use of small d only while others are calling for the use of D only
it is the sneetches with stars upon thars and those without indeed
i think woodward’s idea was well-intended – the problem it has created is that it requires judgment on my part – if i want to write about John Doe and mention he is d-e-a-f i have to figure out do i call him deaf only or Deaf only or what????
yuck – no thanks – im cool with folks deciding their own labels and identity but i have hard time being put in the position where im supposed to figure out who is what when i go to write out the word deaf hence ive taken to using d/Deaf – which is equally awkward and artificial
also the small d and big D controversy seems divorced from the academic understanding and usage of the term – instead it has come to mean big D means – someone who is STRONGLY CULTURALLY DEAF and this to many seems to mean MUST be from a Deaf family, Deaf school and use ASL. While literature often identifies these conditions to be optimal for being carriers of the culture, it is not at stated requisite. in fact many people from deaf parents may not be raised with ASL and may not attend a Deaf school. so in this way we have sadly seen the d/D thing become a way to exclude and conquer or diminish one’s sense of belonging
so those r 2 problems with the word d-e-a-f (dominant cultures understanding of the word and stigma attached and the battle over d/D)
2. Deaf culture or ASL culture
different names have been suggested instead to avoid the above problem with the word d-e-a-f
ASLAN / Amerisilan
again i commend the folks who r introducing this dialogue
i dont think in anyway they r rejecting their Deafhood by suggesting a moving away from the word d-e-a-f re: culture. they r just examining new ways of thinking and empowerment through Deaf folks deciding on a term to represent themselves from an additive model instead of the dominant society dictating it
one thing that puzzles me though is that the terms suggested seem really artificial and awkward also
i always appreciate when a Deaf group thinks in ASL first – meaning they see what feels good on the hands and looks good to the eye first and foremost
Deaf View / Image Art (De’VIA) – the term for Deaf themed art originated in this way – via ASL first then recorded to English
the English should be secondary not primary
so i was wondering – we have:
I speak French. I am French. I love French culture.
I speak German. I am German. I love German culture.
I speak Japanese. I am Japanese. I love Japanese culture.
I speak Russian. I am Russian…
would ASL culture work? plain and simple without all the artificially added stuff ending stuff? i know others have suggested it before so its not a new idea
i was thinking about how a Deaf person would tell me they r a strong ASL user when discussing language rights – often they would sign “ASL me” that seems very organic and natural
some folks have suggested the term sign language community before – a community is very broad – right now we say deaf community and i think it is fitting because it does include non-signing deaf people
for culture – ASL culture or Sign Language culture seems to work in many ways. Now this term would NOT exclude late deafened folks, folks with CI, folks who were raised orally and learned sign late, folks who were raised more with sim-com etc. they would and could still be part of ASL culture if:
1. they used ASL,
2. they valued ASL and believed it to be equal to spoken languages,
3. they exhibit behavioral norms re: ASL people,
4. they practiced traditions / heritage associated with ASL (ABC / # stories and folklore etc) celebrated honored key Deaf figures who advocated for sign language rights and recognition, etc,
5. and cherished ASL possessions (ASL lit – poetry, storytelling, folklore, performance, Deaf themed art (De’VIA), Deaf cinema, etc)
if they prefer not to value ASL culture – that is FINE and their right – they just shouldnt try to obstruct others from enjoying it. There will always be the larger deaf community. nor should anyone in ASL culture try to coerce others to comply with their culture if they prefer not to be part of it
Deaf or ASL culture (which ever u want to call it) exists within the deaf community and the deaf community exists within the larger hearing society
the one concern i have with the term ASL culture is that i really liked the collective potential of an international sense of what it means to be a person of the eye – Deafhood etc so in using the term ASL – it is confining to countries / places that use ASL. I would not want to see ASL culture to become a dominantor or oppressor or colonizer of other native sign languages (as it already has begun to do in some places)
We could say Sign Language culture but i think the concern there is that it might mean any type of sign system and not real sign languages
what do u think?
sorry for the long post
NOTE: i videotaped myself discussing these concepts for a full vlog but my macbook pro built in camera is still a problem – looks fine while recording but when editing the lighting adjusts on its own constantly – must be a setting. Also i went on too long for the medium of vlogs and also HATE to see myself on film – really im much more creative behind the lens than in front of it ; ). so i apologize for discussing this important topic in text English only – its ironic and a bit contradictory to be blogging in ENGLISH about ASL and Deaf culture due to this tech problems
sorry this entry is not a good example of bi/bi philosophy
ella just posted a vlog on Deaf culture and membership / aspects that she had filmed before this blog went up – definitely worth a viewing http://www.ellasflashlight.com/?p=67