Deaf Culture

Deaf Culture is a unique, vibrant culture that thrives through sign language. As deafness often only extends one generation deep, with the majority of deaf people being from hearing families, the Deaf community is often most evident around social institutions such as Deaf schools and colleges.

These social institutions extend the experience of being Deaf beyond an auditory condition; they signify participation in a cultural community, analogous to a national or ethnic identity.

Deaf culture has its own indigenous language, arts, traditions, social norms, and values—all which reflect Deaf people’s distinctive identity and way of experiencing the world that is just as rich as any hearing culture.

American Sign Language, used primarily in the United States and Canada, has its own distinct grammar and syntax—it is not simply a transliteration of spoken English. It has all the power and nuance of any other language, with its own regional accents and slang. The existence of signed languages among deaf people dates back at least as far as the Ancient Greeks, as evidenced by a mention in one of Plato’s dialogues. However different sign languages around the world continue to have a long history of being oppressed or viewed as less important than spoken language.

Gallaudet University celebrates the richness of Deaf Culture by promoting innovation through different sensory ways of being in our world. While advocating social justice for deaf individuals, Gallaudet University is a central place for research on Deaf Culture, sign language, services and education for the deaf, DeafSpace, and deaf experiences.