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Deaf Community

aaxinn's picture

While waiting in line to order a veggie burger at Shouk in Washington, D.C., I was surprised when the two college aged men in front of me ordered their food using sign language. This was one of the few times I’ve observed sign language and I was struck by the energy of the language. Their hand motions signing appeared large and dramatic. I was hungry, but their conversation lingered. Each of them was fully in engaged in the conversation and there was an intimacy that I’ve never observed at a fast food restaurant. When it was my turn to order my veggie burger, the server took my order and sent me to my table with a few polite instructions. At that moment, I could see that ASL is a language which can deeply connect people. While speech is often privileged, I could see that sign language can create an intimacy and connection between people that is not as common with spoken language, perhaps because we take spoken communication for granted. The next day, I looked on a map and realized my hotel was just a few blocks from Gallaudet University. For the first time in my life, I felt the presence of the deaf community.



Marly729's picture

I am so glad you brought that up Mali! A similar experience happened to me when I was at the hospital not too long ago. I usually visit the hospital because my mom works there. Sometimes the nurses use me as a translator. There was a patient who came for a surgery and I was shocked to see the exchange between the patient and their interprator. But it was a good shock. I found that I wanted to know exactly what was being said and found the moment to be very intimate and hypnotizing. I later found out that there are not any nurses or doctors in that department that know ASL and while they can provide a certified interpretor on most occassions, they can not readily proivde one after hours or on the weekends. 

That then made me think about the lack of connection between the deaf and hearing community. Classes such as ASL is not frequently taught or spoken about in the education system. In my opinion, I feel like there isn't a lot of access and opportunity to bridge the gap between the deaf and the hearing