Who We Are – Deaf Culture

Hi! My name is Quiara Howard. Welcome to the Transcript. You may or may not have noticed while walking through the halls here at Northampton High school that we have a few Deaf people among us. This week I sat down with some people and interviewed them about their perspective on Deaf Culture both here in the high school and out in the greater Northampton community. I learned American Sign Language growing up from Deaf friends Later, I joined an ASL class in High School and learned more. Finally, I went to RIT and took classes there and was fully immersed in the language. So, that’s how I learned. I got involved in Deaf Culture by getting involved with Deaf people and immersing myself in the Community. By hanging out with Deaf people and singing. When I meet Deaf people, I don’t speak, i sign. One thing I want hearing people to know about Deaf culture is… well, in relation to my job, I’m an interpreter. That means that my job is to support Deaf people. My job is not to speak for Deaf people. I speak for both parties. If a hearing person and a Deaf person are trying to communicate with each other, I work with them both. I’m not there to represent Deaf people. If you have a question for a Deaf person, go ahead and ask them! I’m here to help hearing people communicate too. So when you communicate with hearing people and Deaf people, how do you prefer to communicate with them? Well, for Deaf people I sign, but for hearing I just talk if they prefer it. And if they prefer both I do both. I have my Clark friends who are both all Deaf and they know how to sign as well. The one thing I want people to know about Deaf culture is you don’t have to know that much sign language to communicate. You just say your name and figure it out and you could always write it down. There’s strategies to communicate. And being deaf doesn’t always mean you can’t do stuff. I like both to communicate with Deaf and hearing people like in mainstream school settings. To communicate with family members, neighbors, at stores, and with coworkers, we work together, and we can. With Deaf people, communication is so much better. I love communicating with Deaf people, because it’s easy. It’s great. I started learning ASL when I was in preschool. My mom had a Deaf son, my older brother. My mom started learning sign, basic sign with him. Then when I was born, they taught me, so I learned from my mom, my brother, and then preschool. It’s just my older brother and I who are Deaf in my family. The rest of my family is hearing. One thing I would like the general public to know about Deaf Culture is to try and put effort into using body language and gesture as a means of communicating rather than feeling awkward and scared. You don’t need to be scared! We’re all; hearing and Deaf, people. Deaf people just can’t hear. That’s all.

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