deaf; culture; sign language
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Culture defines people and gives them a sense of identity. It provides a community for individuals with similar beliefs and values to communicate with one another using a shared language. Deaf Culture encompasses these principles, but it is unique in that it has it’s own fully developed language known as American Sign Language (ASL). ASL is a verbal language that incorporates all of the linguistic components of a spoken language such as syntax, idioms, and dialect variation. It allows the deaf community to have a distinct sense of humor along with their own traditions, literature, and theater. All of these components make up the essence of their culture; however, despite all of the beauty and distinction embodied, there are many misconceptions about deaf individuals. Addressing these and negating them was an important part to the learning process for this project. The goal of this project was to gain a broad understanding of the customs and values of Deaf Culture. As an aspiring speech-language pathologist, I will undoubtedly work with individuals who are hard-of-hearing or deaf. Knowing how important their culture is to them and what it is all about will help me to support them more adequately. Learning basic ASL signs will benefit me, not only with my profession, but also in daily life. Just like learning a foreign language, learning signs will enable me to communicate with a broader scope of people and promote positive language skills. Through this project I have learned about a wide array of topics related to Deaf Culture and deepened my appreciation for cultures other than my own.