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Deaf culture

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Deaf culture

A drawing of the American Sign Language manual alphabet
Sign languages are an important part of Deaf culture. The American Sign Language (ASL) alphabet is shown here.

Deaf culture is the set of social beliefs, behaviors, art, literary traditions, history, values, and shared institutions of communities that are influenced by deafness and which use sign languages as the main means of communication. When used as a cultural label especially within the culture, the word deaf is often written with a capital D and referred to as "big D Deaf" in speech and sign. When used as a label for the audiological condition, it is written with a lower case d.[1][2]

Members of the Deaf community tend to view deafness as a difference in human experience rather than a disability or disease.[3][4] Many members take pride in their Deaf identity.[5] Deaf people, in the sense of a community or culture, can then be seen as a minority group, and therefore some who are a part of this community may feel misunderstood by those who don't know sign language. Another struggle that the Deaf community often faces is that educational institutions usually consist primarily of hearing people. Additionally, hearing family members may need to learn sign language in order for the deaf person to feel included and supported. Unlike other cultures, a deaf person may join the community later in life, rather than being born into it.[6]

The community may include hearing family members of deaf people and sign-language interpreters who identify with Deaf culture. It does not automatically include all people who are deaf or hard-of-hearing.[7] As educator and American Sign Language interpreter Anna Mindess writes, "it is not the extent of hearing loss that defines a member of the deaf community but the individual's own sense of identity and resultant actions."[8] As with all social groups that a person chooses to belong to, a person is a member of the Deaf community if they "identifies him/herself as a member of the Deaf community, and other members accept that person as a part of the community."[9]

Deaf culture is recognized under Article 30, Paragraph 4 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which states that "Persons with disabilities shall be entitled, on an equal basis with others, to recognition and support of their specific cultural and linguistic identity, including sign languages and deaf culture."


  • Acquisition of Deaf culture 1
    • Diversity within Deaf culture 1.1
  • Characteristics of Deaf culture 2
    • Sign languages 2.1
    • Values and beliefs 2.2
    • Behavioral norms 2.3
    • Reliance on technology 2.4
    • Literary traditions and the arts 2.5
    • History 2.6
    • Shared institutions 2.7
      • Deaf African-American institutions 2.7.1
      • Deaf LGBT institutions 2.7.2
      • Deaf religious institutions 2.7.3
      • Deaf women's institutions 2.7.4
    • Libraries and the Deaf community 2.8
    • Deaf libraries 2.9
  • Terminology 3
    • "deaf" and "Deaf" 3.1
    • "hearing-impaired" 3.2
  • See also 4
  • References 5
  • Further reading 6
  • External links 7

Acquisition of Deaf culture

Merikartano school for deaf students in Oulu, Finland (February 2006)
Students at a school for deaf students in Baghdad, Iraq (April 2004)

Historically, Deaf culture has often been acquired within schools for Deaf students and within Deaf social clubs, both of which unite deaf people into communities with which they can identify.[3] Becoming Deaf culturally can occur at different times for different people, depending on the circumstances of one's life. A small proportion of deaf individuals acquire sign language and Deaf culture in infancy from Deaf parents, others acquire it through attendance at schools, and yet others may not be exposed to sign language and Deaf culture until college or a time after that.[8]

Although up to fifty percent of deafness has genetic causes, fewer than five percent of deaf people have a deaf parent,[10] so Deaf communities are unusual among cultural groups in that most members do not acquire their cultural identities from parents.[11]

Diversity within Deaf culture

Educator and ASL interpreter Anna Mindess notes that there is "not just one homogeneous deaf culture".[8] There are many distinct Deaf communities around the world, which communicate using different sign languages and exhibit different cultural norms. Deaf identity also intersects with other kinds of cultural identity. Deaf culture intersects with nationality, education, race, ethnicity, gender, class, sexual orientation, and other identity markers, leading to a culture that is at once quite small and also tremendously diverse. The extent to which people identify primarily with their deaf identity rather than their membership in other intersecting cultural groups also varies. Mindess notes a 1989 study, which found that "87 percent of black deaf people polled identified with their black culture first".[8]

Characteristics of Deaf culture

Sign languages

Members of Deaf cultures communicate via sign languages. There are over 200 distinct sign languages in the world. These include 114 sign languages listed in the Ethnologue database and 157 more sign languages, systems, and dialects.[12][13] While the United Kingdom and the United States are both predominantly English speaking, the predominant signed languages used in these countries differ markedly. Due to the origins of deaf education in the United States, American Sign Language is most closely related to French Sign Language. Sign language is just one part of deaf culture. Deaf identity is also constructed around specific beliefs, values and art.

Values and beliefs

  • A positive attitude towards deafness is typical in deaf cultural groups. Deafness is not generally considered a condition that needs to be fixed.[8]
  • The use of a sign language is central to deaf cultural identity. Oralist approaches to educating deaf children thereby pose a threat to the continued existence of deaf culture. Some members of deaf communities may also oppose technological innovations like cochlear implants for the same reason.
  • Culturally, deaf people value the use of natural sign languages that exhibit their own grammatical conventions, such as American Sign Language and British Sign Language, over signed versions of English or other oral languages. Spoken English, written English and signed English are three different symbolic systems for expressing the same language.[14]
  • Deaf communities strongly oppose discrimination against deaf people.
  • Deaf culture in the United States tends to be collectivist rather than individualist; culturally deaf people value the group.[8]

Behavioral norms

  • Culturally deaf people have rules of etiquette for getting attention, walking through signed conversations, leave-taking, and otherwise politely negotiating a signing environment.
  • Deaf people also keep each other informed of what is going on in one's environment. It is common to provide detailed information when leaving early or arriving late; withholding such information may be considered rude.[8]
  • Deaf people may be more direct or blunt than their hearing counterparts.[8]
  • When giving introductions, deaf people typically try to find common ground; since the deaf community is relatively small, deaf people usually know some other deaf people in common. "The search for connections is the search for connectedness."[8]
  • Deaf people may also consider time differently. Showing up early to large-scale events, such as lectures, is typical. This may be motivated by the need to get a seat that provides the best visual clarity for the deaf person.

Reliance on technology

  • Deaf individuals rely on technology for communication significantly. In the United States, video relay services and an array of freestanding and software-driven video phones are often used by deaf people to conduct telephonic communication with hearing and deaf businesses, family and friends. Devices such as the teletype (known as a TTY, an electronic device used for communication over a telephone line) are far less common, but are used by some deaf people who are without access to high-speed Internet or have a preference for these methods for their telephonic communication.
  • Technology is even important in face-to-face social situations. For example, when deaf people meet a hearing person who does not know sign language, they often communicate via the notepad on their cell phones. Here, technology takes the place of a human sense, allowing deaf individuals to successfully communicate with different cultures.
  • Social media tends to be of great importance to deaf individuals. Networking sites allow the deaf to find each other and to remain in contact. Many deaf people have deaf friends throughout the entire country that they met or maintain contact with through online communities. Because the deaf community is so small, for many deaf people, the stigma of meeting others online does not exist.
  • Closed Captioning must be available on a television in order for a deaf person to fully appreciate the audio portion of the broadcast. Conflicts arise when establishments such as restaurants, airlines, or fitness centers fail to accommodate deaf people by turning on Closed Captioning. Movie theaters are increasingly compliant with providing visual access to first-run movies through stand-alone devices, glasses and open caption technology which allow deaf people to attend movies as they are released.[15]
  • Alert systems such as fire alarms and alarm clocks must appeal to different senses in order for a deaf individual to notice the alert. Objects such as vibrating pillows and flashing lights often take the place of the noise-based alarms.
  • Lack of understanding about technological accessibility for the deaf causes conflict and injustice for the deaf community. For example, a significant number of deaf individuals in the UK admit that they are dissatisfied with their banks because of their heavy reliance on telephone banking and lack of assistance to deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals.[16]
  • Architecture that is conducive to signed communication minimizes visual obstructions and may include such things as automatic sliding doors to free up the hands for continuous conversation.[17]
  • Religious work among the deaf and their use of technology includes the Deaf Bible App with contains the American Sign Language translation of the New Testament and portions of the Old Testament.[18]

Literary traditions and the arts

A strong tradition of poetry and storytelling exists in American Sign Language and other sign languages. Some prominent performers in the United States include Clayton Valli, Benjamin Bahan, Ella Mae Lentz, Manny Hernandez, C. J. Jones, Debbie Rennie, Patrick Graybill, Peter Cook, and many others. Their works are now increasingly available on video.[19]

Culturally deaf people have also represented themselves in the dominant written languages of their nations.[20]

Deaf artists such as Betty G. Miller and Chuck Baird have produced visual artwork that conveys a deaf worldview.[21] Douglas Tilden was a famous deaf sculptor who produced many different sculptures in his lifetime.[22]

Organizations such as the Deaf Professional Arts Network or D-PAN are dedicated to promoting professional development and access to the entertainment, visual and media arts fields for individuals who are deaf or hard-of-hearing.[23]


Deaf people who sign are intensely proud of their history. In the United States, they recount the story of Laurent Clerc, a deaf educator, coming to the United States from France in 1816 to help found the first permanent school for deaf children in the country.[20]

Another well-known event is the 1880 Second International Congress on Education of the Deaf in Milan, Italy, where hearing educators voted to embrace oral education and remove sign language from the classroom.[24] This effort resulted in strong opposition within deaf cultures today to the oralist method of teaching deaf children to speak and lip read with limited or no use of sign language in the classroom. The method is intended to make it easier for Deaf children to integrate into hearing communities, but the benefits of learning in such an environment are disputed. The use of sign language is central to Deaf identity, and attempts to limit its use are viewed as an attack.

Shared institutions

Women's art class at State School of the Deaf, Delavan, Wisconsin, c. 1880

Deaf culture revolves around such institutions as residential schools for deaf students, universities for deaf students (including World Federation of the Deaf conferences.

Deaf clubs, popular in the 1940s and 1950s, were also an important part of deaf culture. During this time there were very few places that the deaf could call their own– places run by deaf people for deaf people. Deaf clubs were the solution to this need. Money was made by selling alcohol and hosting card games. Sometimes these ventures were so successful that the building used by the club was able to be purchased. However, the main attraction of these clubs was that they provided a place that deaf people could go to be around other deaf people, sometimes sharing stories, hosting parties, comedians, and plays. Many of today’s common ABC stories were first seen at deaf clubs. The clubs were found in all of the major cities, New York City being home to at least 12. These clubs were an important break from their usually solitary day spent at factory jobs.[11]

In the 1960s, deaf clubs began their quick and drastic decline. Today there are only a few spread-out deaf clubs found in America and their attendance is commonly small with a tendency to the elderly. This sudden decline is often attributed to the rise of technology like the TTY and closed captioning for personal TVs. With other options available for entertainment and communication, the need for deaf clubs grew smaller. It was no longer the only option for getting in touch with other members of the deaf community.[11]

However, others attribute the decline of deaf clubs to the end of

  • Deafness as Culture. Article by Edward Dolnick in the Atlantic Monthly, September 1993.
  • "Deafness is not a disability" (argumentum ad consequentiam) Article discussing the controversy.
  • Identity Politics Gone Wild, by Charlotte Allen. Weekly Standard, 2 April 2007
  • Inside Deaf Culture Website
  • The Silent Worker – a popular national newspaper among the deaf population of the United States during the end of the 1890s through the end of the first quarter of the 20th century.
  • National Association of the Deaf. The NAD protects deaf and hard of hearing civil rights in the U.S.

External links

  • Berbrier, Mitch. "Being Deaf has little to do with one's ears": Boundary work in the Deaf culture movement. Perspectives on Social Problems, 10, 79–100.
  • Cartwright, Brenda E. Encounters with Reality: 1001 (Deaf) interpreters scenarios
  • Christiansen, John B. (2003) Deaf President Now! The 1988 Revolution at Gallaudet University, Gallaudet University Press
  • Ladd, P. (2003). Understanding Deaf Culture. In Search of Deafhood, Toronto: Multilingual Matters.
  • Lane, Harlan (1993). The Mask of Benevolence, New York: Random House.
  • Lane, Harlan. (1984) When the Mind Hears: A History of the Deaf, New York: Vintage.
  • Lane, Harlan, Hoffmeister, Robert, & Bahan, Ben (1996). A Journey into the Deaf-World, San Diego, CA: DawnSignPress.
  • Luczak, Raymond (1993). Eyes of Desire: A Deaf Gay & Lesbian Reader.
  • Moore, Matthew S. & Levitan, Linda (2003). For Hearing People Only, Answers to Some of the Most Commonly Asked Questions About the Deaf Community, its Culture, and the "Deaf Reality", Rochester, New York: Deaf Life Press.
  • Padden, Carol A. (1980). The deaf community and the culture of Deaf people. In: C. Baker & R. Battison (eds.) Sign Language and the Deaf Community, Silver Spring(EEUU): National Association of the Deaf.
  • Padden, Carol A. (1996). From the cultural to the bicultural: the modern Deaf community, in Parasnis I, ed. "Cultural and Language Diversity and the Deaf Experience", Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press
  • Padden, Carol A. & Humphries, Tom L. (1988). Deaf in America: Voices from a Culture, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
  • Padden, Carol A. & Humphries, Tom L. (2005). Inside Deaf Culture, ISBN 978-0-674-01506-7.
  • Sacks, Oliver W. (1989). Seeing Voices: A Journey Into The World Of The Deaf, ISBN 978-0-520-06083-8.
  • Spradley, Thomas and Spradley, James (1985). Deaf Like Me, Gallaudet University Press, ISBN 978-0-930323-11-0.
  • Van Cleve, John Vickrey & Crouch, Barry A. (1989). A Place of Their Own: Creating the Deaf Community in America, ISBN 978-0-930323-49-3.

Further reading

  1. ^ a b Padden, Carol A.; Humphries, Tom (Tom L.) (2005). Inside Deaf Culture. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. p. 1.  
  2. ^ a b Jamie Berke (9 February 2010). "Deaf Culture - Big D Small D". Retrieved 22 November 2013. 
  3. ^ a b c d  
  4. ^ Lane, Harlan L.; Richard Pillard; Ulf Hedberg (2011). The People of the Eye: Deaf Ethnicity and Ancestry. Oxford University Press. p. 269.  
  5. ^ James, Susan Donaldson; Huang, Grace (2006-12-13). "Deaf and Proud to Use Sign Language". ABC News. Retrieved 2015-08-31. 
  6. ^ Nash, Jeffrey E.; Nash, Anedith (1981). Deafness in Society. Toronto: LexingtonBooks. pp. 100–102. 
  7. ^ a b Padden, Carol; Humphries, Tom (1988). Deaf in America: Voices from a Culture. Harvard University Press. p. 134.  
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i Mindess, Anna (2006). Reading Between the Signs: Intercultural Communication for Sign Language Interpreters.  
  9. ^ Baker, Charlotte; Carol Padden (1978). American Sign Language: A look at its story, structure and community. 
  10. ^ Mitchell, Ross E. & Karchmer, Michael A. (2004) Chasing the mythical ten percent: Parental hearing status of deaf and hard of hearing students in the United States. Sign Language Studies 4:2, 138–163.
  11. ^ a b c d Bauman, Dirksen (2008). Open your eyes: Deaf studies talking. University of Minnesota Press.  
  12. ^ Harrington, Thomas. "Sign language of the world by name". Galllaudet University Library. Retrieved 24 July 2012. 
  13. ^ Harrington, Thomas. "Sign language of the world by name." n. page. Print.
  14. ^ Gannon, Jack R (1981). Deaf Heritage–A Narrative History of Deaf America. Silver Spring, MD: National Association of the Deaf. p. 378.  
  15. ^ Rood, Rachel (May 12, 2013). "New Closed-Captioning Glasses Help Deaf Go Out To The Movies : All Tech Considered". NPR. Retrieved 2015-04-12. 
  16. ^ "Banks face massive payouts to deaf customers". Action On Hearing Loss / RNID. 2012-02-21. Archived from the original on 2013-06-04. Retrieved 2015-04-12. 
  17. ^ Tsymbal, Karina (2010). "Drum: Deaf Space And The Visual World – Buildings That Speak: An Elementary School For The Deaf". Retrieved 2012-04-15. 
  18. ^ "Matthew 1 | American Sign Language". 2015-04-02. Retrieved 2015-04-12. 
  19. ^ Bauman, Dirksen (2006). Jennifer Nelson and Heidi Rose, eds. Signing the Body Poetic: Essays in American Sign Language Literature. University of California Press.  
  20. ^ a b Krentz, Christopher (2000). A Mighty Change: An Anthology of Deaf American Writing 1816–1864. Gallaudet University Press.  
  21. ^ Sonnenstrahl, Deborah (2002). Deaf Artists in America: Colonial to Contemporary. DawnSignPress.  
  22. ^ "Douglas Tilden facts and information". Retrieved 2015-04-17. 
  23. ^ (2011)"Ability Magazine: Sean Forbes – Not Hard to Hear"". Retrieved 2012-04-04. 
  24. ^ Baynton, Douglas (1996). Forbidden Signs: American Culture and the Campaign against Sign Language. University of Chicago Press.  
  25. ^ "About Us". Retrieved 2015-04-12. 
  26. ^ "Purpose". Retrieved 2015-09-26. 
  27. ^ Gianoulis, Tina. ">> social sciences >> Deaf Culture" (PDF). glbtq archive. Retrieved 2015-09-26. 
  28. ^ "Other LGBT Organisations". LGBT Diversity. Retrieved 2015-04-12. 
  29. ^ "A Rabbinical School for Deaf and Hearing". Hebrew Seminary. Retrieved 2015-04-12. 
  30. ^ Albrecht, Gary L, ed. (2006). Encyclopedia of Disability Volume 5 - Google Books.  
  31. ^ "Churches for Deaf". Retrieved 2015-04-12. 
  32. ^ DeFiglio, Pam. "Hebrew Seminary of the Deaf". Patch. Archived from the original on 2013-09-11. 
  33. ^ Tomchin, Susan (April 2012). "Hearing the Needs of the Jewish Deaf". Jewish Women International. Retrieved September 26, 2015. 
  34. ^ Laird, Grant, Jr. (2011-06-20). "JDRC Salutes Conservative Judaism’s Ruling to Include Deaf Jews as Equals | Deaf Network of Texas". Retrieved 2015-04-12. 
  35. ^ "About Us". Deaf Women United. Retrieved September 26, 2015. 
  36. ^ "Who is Pink Wings of Hope?". 2009-10-11. Retrieved 2015-09-26. 
  37. ^ "Library Services for People with Disabilities Policy | Association of Specialized & Cooperative Library Agencies (ASCLA)". 2001-01-16. Retrieved 2015-04-17. 
  38. ^ Hagemeyer, A. L. (2001). Achievement: From a lack of knowledge to an appreciation of Deaf history. IFLA Conference Proceedings, 1–3.
  39. ^ McQuigg, Karen (August 2003). "Are the deaf a disabled group, or a linguistic minority? Issues for librarians in Victoria’s public libraries". Australian Library Journal. 52(4). Archived from the original on May 31, 2004. 
  40. ^ Day, J. M. (2000). Guidelines for library services to deaf people (Report no. 62). The Hague: International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions.
  41. ^ Hollander, P. (1995). Deaf-advocacy at Queens Borough PL. American Libraries, 26(6), 560–562.
  42. ^ Harrington, T.R. (1998). The Deaf collection at the Gallaudet University Library. Education Libraries, 22(3), 5-12.
  43. ^ Cohen, S. (2006). Have you heard about the Library Services for the Deaf & Hard of Hearing? Tennessee Libraries, 56(1), 51–56.
  44. ^ "James Woodward biography". Deaf Dialogue. 24 August 2010. Retrieved 22 November 2013. 
  45. ^ "RULE MANUAL 27 COLORADO COMMISSION FOR THE DEAF AND HARD OF HEARING". Colorado Secretary of State. May 1, 2010. p. 15. Retrieved September 26, 2015. 


See also

The term hearing-impaired is more likely to be used by people with a mild or moderate hearing loss and people who have acquired deafness in adulthood rather than by those who have grown up deaf. By contrast, those who identify with the Deaf culture movement typically reject the label impaired and other labels that imply that deafness is a pathological condition, viewing it instead as a focus of pride.[3]


A U.S. state regulation from the Colorado Department of Human Services defines "Deaf" (uppercase) as "A group of people, with varying hearing acuity, whose primary mode of communication is a visual language (predominantly American Sign Language (ASL) in the United States) and have a shared heritage and culture," and has a separate definition for "deaf" (lowercase).[45]

In 1972, Professor James Woodward, co-director of the Centre for Sign Linguistics and Deaf Studies at the Chinese University of Hong Kong since 2004, proposed a distinction between deafness and the deaf culture.[44] He suggested using deaf (written with a lower case d) to refer to the audiological condition of deafness, and Deaf (written with an upper case D) to refer to deaf culture.[1][3][7] This distinction has been widely adopted within the culture.[2]

"deaf" and "Deaf"


In Nashville, Tennessee, Sandy Cohen manages the Library Services for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (LSDHH). The program was created in 1979 in response to information accessibility issues for the Deaf in the Nashville area. Originally, the only service provided was the news via a teletypewriter or TTY, but today, the program has expanded to serving the entire state of Tennessee by providing all different types of information and material on deafness, Deaf culture, and information for family members of Deaf people, as well as a historical and reference collection.[43]

The library at Gallaudet University, the only Deaf liberal arts university in the United States, was founded in 1876. The library’s collection has grown from a small number of reference books to the world’s largest collection of deaf-related materials with over 234,000 books and thousands of other materials in different formats. The collection is so large that the library had to create a hybrid classification system based on the Dewey Decimal Classification System in order to make cataloging and location within the library much easier for both library staff and users. The library also houses the university’s archives, which holds some of the oldest deaf-related books and documents in the world.[42]

Deaf libraries

Over the years, library services have begun to evolve in order to accommodate the needs and desires of local Deaf communities. At the Queen Borough Public Library (QBPL) in New York, the staff implemented new and innovative ideas in order to involve the community and library staff with the Deaf people in their community. The QBPL hired a deaf librarian, Lori Stambler, to train the library staff about Deaf culture, to teach sign language classes for family members and people who are involved with deaf people, and to teach literacy classes for Deaf patrons. In working with the library, Stambler was able to help the community reach out to its deaf neighbors, and helped other deaf people become more active in their outside community.[41]

New guidelines from library organizations such as International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) and the ALA were written in order to help libraries make their information more accessible to people with disabilities, and in some cases, specifically the Deaf community. IFLA’s Guidelines for Library Services to Deaf People is one such set of guidelines, and it was published to inform libraries of the services that should be provided for Deaf patrons. Most of the guidelines pertain to ensuring that Deaf patrons have equal access to all available library services. Other guidelines include training library staff to provide services for the Deaf community, availability of text telephones or TTYs not only to assist patrons with reference questions but also for making outside calls, using the most recent technology in order to communicate more effectively with Deaf patrons, including closed captioning services for any television services, and developing a collection that would interest the members of the Deaf community.[40]

Australian librarian Karen McQuigg states that “even ten years ago, when I was involved in a project looking at what public libraries could offer the deaf, it seemed as if the gap between the requirements of this group and what public libraries could offer was too great for public libraries to be able to serve them effectively.”[39] Clearly, not even so long ago, there was quite a dearth of information for or about the Deaf community available in libraries across the nation and around the globe.

One of the first activists in the library community working toward accessibility for the Deaf was Alice Hagemeyer. When disabled communities began demanding equality in the 1970s, Hagemeyer decided to go back to school for her master's degree in library science. While she was studying there, she realized that there was not very much information about the Deaf community at her library or at the libraries of any of her classmates. She soon became an activist for Deaf awareness at her library, and she became the first “Librarian for the Deaf Community” from any public library in the nation. Hagemeyer also constructed a manual of resources for Deaf people and those associated with them called The Red Notebook. This notebook is now an online resource, which is available at the website of the Friends of Libraries for Deaf Action. Hagemeyer was one of the first library activists to make strides for the Deaf community.[38]

The history of the role of libraries in the Deaf community is a sordid one at best. The American Library Association readily admits that disabled people belong to a minority that is often overlooked and underrepresented by people in the library, and the Deaf community belongs in this minority group.[37] However, in the last few decades, libraries across the United States have made great strides in the mission of making libraries more accessible to disabilities in general and to the Deaf community specifically.

Deaf people at the library have the same needs as every other person visiting the library and often have more difficulty accessing materials and services. Over the last few decades, libraries in the United States have begun to implement services and collections for Deaf patrons and are working harder every year to make more of their collections, services, their communities, and even the world more accessible to this group of underserved people.

Libraries and the Deaf community

There are 15 chapters of Deaf Women United throughout America; its mission is, "to promote the lives of Deaf women through empowerment, enrichment, and networking."[35] There is also Pink Wings of Hope, an American breast cancer support group for deaf and hard-of-hearing women.[36]

Deaf women's institutions

There are deaf churches (where sign language is the main language), deaf synagogues, deaf Jewish community centers, and the Hebrew Seminary of the Deaf in Illinois.[29][30][31][32] In 2011 the Conservative Movement unanimously passed the rabbinic responsa, "The Status of the Heresh [one who is deaf] and of Sign Language," by the Committee on Jewish Law and Standards (CJLS).[33] This responsa declared that, among other things, "The Committee on Jewish Law and Standards rules that the deaf who communicate via sign language and do not speak are no longer to be considered mentally incapacitated. Jews who are deaf are responsible for observing mitzvot. Our communities, synagogues, schools, and camps must strive to be welcoming and accessible, and inclusive. Sign language may be used in matters of personal status and may be used in rituals. A deaf person called to the Torah who does not speak may recite the berakhot via sign language. A deaf person may serve as a shaliah tzibbur in sign language in a minyan whose medium of communication is sign language."[34]

Deaf religious institutions

The Rainbow Alliance of the Deaf is a nonprofit established in 1977 to, "establish and maintain a society of Deaf [26] There is also the American deaf resource center Deaf Queer Resource Center (DQRC), the Hong Kong Bauhinias Deaf Club, and the Greenbow LGBT Society of Ireland.[27][28]

Deaf LGBT institutions

National Black Deaf Advocates, which still exists, was established in 1982 "to promote the leadership development, economic and educational opportunities, social equality, and to safeguard the general health and welfare of Black deaf and hard-of-hearing people." [25]

Deaf African-American institutions


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