How to Deaf Culture
I’m about to go attend a deaf event, so I decided to write this quick little list! A lot of my followers don’t know any ASL or even what ASL is (American Sign Language) , so here’s a guide for if you’re ever around Deaf people and how to respect them!
- DO NOT use the term “hearing impaired”. Good willed people like to use it for political correctness, but to the Deaf Community, it’s offensive because they are proud to be Deaf. They embrace their deafness and the lifestyle that comes with it.
- TAP, don’t YELL. Yes, unbelievable, I know. They’re deaf. So yelling in their faces won’t help you or them one bit. Besides that, waving obnoxiously to get a deaf persons’ attention is also rude. Simply give a little tap on the shoulder to alert them, unless you’re facing their front! If coming up from behind, give a little tap! If not, a small wave will be fine.
- ASL is not a direct translation of English. It is its’ own language, something like Korean or Mandarin or French and so forth. ASL has its own grammar structure and rules, so signing direct English is technically incorrect. If you accidently sign in PSE (pigeon-signed-english) which is direct translation, whoever you are signing with will most likely remind you/correct you to sign in the technical structure.
- ASL is not universal. There is no count of how many signed languages there are, just like how it’s difficult to get an accurate number of spoken languages! The point is, there is British Sign Language, German Sign Language, Japanese Sign Language, and so on and so forth. For Deaf who go overseas frequently or attend international meetings, there is an improvised form of sign language, but not so much that it is a learned sign language.
- If using an interpreter, talk directly to the deaf person. Facing the interpreter is like saying that the deaf person is not there, which is extremely rude. The interpreter will catch on and interpret even if you’re not facing them, that’s their job.
- Breaking eye contact is rude. In the hearing world, eye contact isn’t as important because we can look at one thing but still listen to the speaker. In the deaf world, eye contact must be made while conversing to show respect.
- “S…L…O…W…L…Y” is a no. Many deaf persons can read lips. Does that mean you should mouth every syllable of a word at a snails’ pace when talking to a deaf person? No. It’s like having the same done to you. Also, though it may be done with good intentions, it often comes off as stuck-up/having the higher power. Speak normally.
- Don’t be scared! The Deaf Community loves to sign and help students learning ASL. If you have basic knowledge of it, then approach them politely and introduce yourself! Especially if at a deaf event, Deaf are more than happy to warmly greet you and sign. There’s no need to hold back! Just remember that Deaf Culture is different from Hearing.
I encourage you to learn ASL/your countrys’ sign language if you’re curious! Learn from classes, because online diagrams will not give you the correct forms. Sign language is a beautiful form of communication , along with the people in the community! Remember, every culture has its differences, and Deaf Culture is no exception!