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Lisa Koch

on 24 November 2014

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Transcript of Deafhood

What is Deafhood?
Deafhood is the sum of all the positive aspects of us as Deaf people. Under Deafhood, Deaf are seen as being able to do things.
Deaf can read
Deaf can write
Deaf can sign
Deaf can socialize with others
Deaf people have a community
Deaf people have a culture
Deaf people have a whole list of things that go on and on
Deafhood is about understanding ourselves as Deaf people
Looking inside and examining ourselves.
Understanding and recognizing the oppression that has occurred over the centuries which has come to take root in ourselves.
Eradicating those traces of oppression.
Resisting, while at the same time recognizing the oppression that is still occurring in the present day.
Deafhood is understanding that we are Deaf, not Hearing
It is okay to be Deaf! We are equal in all respects to Hearing people!
Hearing people have their ways, and we have ours. One is no better or worse than the other.
They have their language, and we have our sign language.
They have their ways of socialization, and we have ours.
They have their culture, and we have our culture.
Both hearing and Deaf cultures are equal, and both are equally valuable.
We can socialize and get along with them, and they can socialize and get along with us. Deaf people should recognize that we don't need to conform to their ways to be “equal”. We do not need to be able to hear and talk to become equal to a Hearing person.
. on their own Deaf terms.

Deaf can be equal to Hearing people . .
Deafhood is about envisioning . .
. a positive future for ourselves. A future in which our academic levels are higher, our community is uplifted, stronger and more cohesive. Our language, our signs are not deteriorating, but rather, elevated and fluent. Economically, instead of struggling and being poor, we can raise our economic level to work together and improve our community and gain political power to lobby our government.
That is Deafhood


These are all positive futures which we aspire to. However, it is not enough to just dream. We must work to achieve those positive futures and claim them for ourselves, and more importantly, for our Deaf children and their future.
These words come from . .
Dr. Donald Grushkin’s enhanced transcript on the term: Deafhood.
Deafhood has two components:
• It is a way of gathering together and framing what we already know of Deaf culture, life, politics etc.

• The framing process itself reveals ways in which we can move “beyond” present Deaf cultural limitations resulting from the colonialism of "Sign Language Peoples" (SLPs)
The word “Deafhood” was first developed by Paddy Ladd in 1993
Understanding the concept of "colonization" is an integral part of the Deafhood philosophy.
The term “Deafness”, and others like it, are seen as arising from the colonization process. Hence there was a need to develop our own Deaf-centered term, “Deafhood”.
Deafhood acknowledges that ALL Deaf people embark on a journey towards deepening and refining their Deaf selves.
Many are content to reside within the “boundaries” of existing Deaf cultures, yet some press on to stretch those boundaries.
• the total sum of all positive meanings of the word “Deaf” — past, present and future —
all the largest meanings of what Sign Language Peoples have been, are, and can become.
Deafhood encompasses . .

- all that Deaf people have created in this world
- all that they created which has been lost to sight (because of colonialism).
- all that they might create in future
Why another word for Deaf people?
What’s wrong with terms such as “deafness”, or “deaf and hard of hearing”?
We are visually oriented in dealing with the environment. We feel most at ease using a signed language rather than a spoken language.
The degree of hearing or speaking ability does not matter.
Each person’s search for Deafhood occurs on all levels: physical, emotional, mental, spiritual, cultural and linguistic.
Each Deaf person is linked to the amazing collective experience called the Deaf community and culture.
There are obstacles to "Deafhood"
Those obstacles are Oralism and Audism which peaked in the early 1900’s with the activities of eugenicists such as Alexander Graham Bell.
Oralism and Audism were counteracted somewhat when Sign Language had a resurgence in the 1960’s, 1970’s and 1980’s
is the science of controlling the population by eliminating certain characteristics that are considered negative. This is done through selective breeding, sterilization, and at its worst, genocide.
Oralism and Audism
have come back more ferocious and dangerous in the 2000’s with rampant mainstreaming, cochlear implants, and genetic engineering.
When it comes to Deaf people
. the ultimate goal is to eradicate the
“deficit”, that “horrible isolating disability,” through technology and education.
The educational philosophy and practice that focuses on developing speech and listening skills. This practice degrades Sign Language and claims it interferes with Deaf people’s acquisition of speech skills.
The true success of Deafhood
. is when Deaf people feel “at home” with being Deaf and find a commonality with other Deaf people in their visual orientation and use of Sign Language. When we are secure with our own natural language and community, we can be healthier, more creative and more able to embrace the diversity that surrounds us.
Others have viewed Deaf people
. as a problem, focusing on our mouths and ears, and viewing us negatively in that we can’t do things.
Deaf can't . .
Deaf can’t read
Deaf can’t write
Deaf can’t talk
Deaf can’t hear
Deaf are not smart
and the list of negative perceptions goes on and on

Those negative perceptions come under the category of “deafness”.
Deafness is a label that has been attached to us. But this is a label that we do not like and do not want to accept. We wish to turn that label around to its flip side – “Deafhood”, which we will proudly wear.

Full transcript