A community is a social unit with common traits. The Deaf community is made up of Deaf people who adopt the Deaf culture and signed languages as part of their identity. Hearing persons – who embrace Deaf culture and use sign language – may also be accepted by Deaf people as peripheral members of the Deaf community.
Culture consists of languages, customs, beliefs, rules, arts, knowledge, and collective identities and memories developed by members of all social groups that make their social environments meaningful.
Padden and Humphreys (2005) defines culture as a set of learned behaviours of a group of people that share the following:
Signed languages are central to Deaf culture and community, which gives them a sense of belonging, binding them as a cohesive whole. In Singapore, the signed language used by the Deaf community is Singapore Sign Language (SgSL).
The most important values in Deaf culture are the acknowledgement of the importance of sign language to the Deaf community and self-acceptance of one’s deafness as a personal trait rather than a disability or deficiency.
RULES OF BEHAVIOUR
As a group of like-minded individuals, deaf people have certain learnt or adopted behaviours that are distinct from the other communities. The following are examples of these behaviours:
The Deaf communities have their own traditions like other cultural communities. These traditions include:
DID YOU KNOW? Deaf Culture is recognised under Article 30, paragraph 4, of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities) . This convention has been signed and ratified by the Singapore government.
For Deaf people, barriers to access are rarely about physical obstacles. The most common challenge faced by the Deaf is the lack of access to information. Information is often conveyed through verbal or auditory methods via direct interaction with people who do not use sign language or audio systems.
People who are Deaf or hard of hearing should have the right to information in accessible formats across all forms of media. With full and equal access to information, they will then be able to make informed decisions.
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