Deaf culture needs to be respected


Lilly Berggoetz, Reporter

Can you imagine what your life would be if you had your hearing up until age 12? Now, imagine being in the hospital with a severe illness. I experienced both of those. I was admitted into the hospital, and just a few hours later I was completely deaf. This, of course, was a huge traumatic experience for me. It took me about five years to fully accept the fact that I was now in a completely different world than I was before I contracted bacterial meningitis and lost my hearing overnight.

Within those five years, I was immersed into the *Deaf community and the language of American Sign Language. Deaf Culture plays a big role in my life and recently, I have noticed it has not been respected. From day one when I first woke up deaf, I was already experiencing language deprivation. I was 12, and was lucky that I had already learned the basic foundations of language. But, many deaf children are deprived of language from day one. According to Language Equality and Acquisition for Deaf Kids (LEAD-K), “Language deprivation has irreparable catastrophic consequences on the educational, social and vocational development of Deaf and hard of hearing children.” Many deaf children are language deprived because their parents are uneducated about Deaf issues.

Not only are deaf children deprived of language, they are also deprived of culture. Although I was not born deaf, after losing my hearing, I was lost in a hearing world. I do not know why, but I refused to involve myself in the Deaf Community. When I finally realized that I needed sign language and transferred to the Deaf school, I realized what I was missing. Some people do not realize that deaf people can do anything except hear. We deaf people are perfectly capable of doing anything we imagine ourselves doing. I think it is wrong to deprive people of language and culture.

Whether it is providing an interpreter for an event, sending your child to a Deaf school to learn about their language and culture or even learning ASL yourself, you should not deprive children of that opportunity. Although I have been deaf for only five years, I have been deprived of having normal conversations with my family and friends, I’ve been lost in the classroom because I did not have the proper tools to help me understand everything that was going on and I haven’t even been able to watch my favorite TV show on Netflix. According to the National Association of the Deaf, deaf children are more successful when they have a strong foundation of language, because they are deaf, their first language should be American Sign Language. After they have acquired ASL, they have a higher chance of learning a second language easier. Deaf people, Deaf Culture and the overall Deaf community have been oppressed and disrespected for many years. It’s time to change.  


* explains Deaf with a capital D “refers to embracing the cultural norms, beliefs, and values of the Deaf Community. The term “Deaf” should be capitalized when it is used as a shortened reference to being a member of the Deaf Community.” while lower case deaf ‘The condition of partially or completely lacking in the sense of hearing to the extent that one cannot understand speech for everyday communication purposes. (For example, you can’t hear well enough to use the phone on a consistent basis.)”