Diversity comes in all shapes and sizes

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In honor of MLK week I thought it would be a nice opportunity for me to discuss a different minority group that many people give a second thought to.

Going to Western we all know we have a high deaf population because of the ASL studies and Interpreting program here at Western but there is even more than that. In Salem, OR there is the Oregon School for the Deaf which also contributes to the high deaf population in this area.

In my ASL VIII class we had the opportunity this week to translate the MLK speech into sign language. This was no easy task but it opened my eyes to the struggle African American’s went through and the similarities it has to the deaf culture struggle.

 

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Now I imagine many people haven’t particularly thought about this topic but let me open your mind for just a minute. Before modern technology for years when people were born deaf everyone in their communities thought the children were born stupid or mentally handicapped and so these children were never given the same childhood opportunities in their life. It wasn’t until 1817 when a state sponsored school for the deaf was established that people’s mind sets on deaf people really began changing.

But even now a days many people still struggle with the idea of being deaf. A lot of deaf people are born to hearing parents and that leads to situations the parents can’t handle. They buy cochlear implants and send them through schools to practice talking like a “normal person.” They refuse to learn any amount of sign language and try to suppress any amount of deaf culture interactions.

The current struggle for the deaf is the interactions with hearing people that have no background with deaf people. I just read an article the other day about a deaf man who was beaten by the cops because he wasn’t listening to them even though it clearly stated on his license that he was deaf.

It just amazes me that their are still such ignorant and horrible interactions between hearing and deaf people in this day and age. So please make yourself aware of your surroundings and if you run into a deaf person just interact with them like you would anyone else to the best of your abilities!

By Amanda Summers

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