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Congenital Deafness and Deaf Culture

Addressing the aspects of deaf culture requires an understanding of the basics. Congenital deafness is when a person is born deaf, whereas genetic deafness refers to deafness that is genetically transmitted, which is relatively rare (Author 299). Congenital deafness is not necessarily genetic – for instance, it can result from prenatal exposure to the rubella virus (Author 299). Conversely, a hereditarily deaf person may be born with normal hearing that gradually deteriorates (Author 300). The Americans with Disabilities Act, which prohibits discrimination based on disability (including deaf persons) in public accommodations, transportation, and others, went into effect in 1992 (Author 311). However, experiencing hearing loss, especially later in life, is still challenging. A younger person will usually cope with hearing loss easier than someone with an established life plan, including career and family (Author 321). Late deafness affects interpersonal relationships, sometimes to the extent of breaking up (Author 322). Lastly, unhelpful advice from misguided friends and family imposes negative connotations of deafness to the already difficult situation (Author 322). Despite the established legal protection, deaf people may nonetheless struggle with societal integration.

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For any culture, communication is vital to establish societal and communal bonds. Cultural connections form through gossip in The American Sign Language (ASL) without intrusion from ‘others,’ sharing jokes and teasing (Author 326). Moreover, ASL literature and performances allowed the deaf community (DC) to stand in its authentic identity rather than mimicking the hearing community (Author 326). The most intriguing stereotype about the DC is their perceived inability to dance since this activity does not rely solely on audial cues. However, not every activity is equally available for the DC members.

The passing of the silent movies era presented the challenge of having the narration rely largely on audial information during screenings. Adding captions to the original, non-translated movies is a simple yet effective solution (Author 373). Importantly, prioritizing captions over subtitles– the former describing pertinent sound effects rather than simply translating dialogue (Author 372). Despite the limitations, music remains a part of deaf culture through all-deaf troupes, dance groups, and individuals who visit clubs and festivals with loudly played music (Author 379). Deaf people’s dance relies on visual cues, amplified music with enhanced bass, and percussion help (Author 378). To conclude, there is much variability in creative pursuits available for the DC, and further support is needed to develop them.

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