Celebrating National Deaf Awareness Month

September 6, 2019 BY ELISA LEWIS
Updated: June 1, 2021

woman signs hello in ASL

It’s officially September! This time of the year calls for sweaters, pumpkin spiced lattes, apple picking, and all things related to fall. it’s also a time to celebrate National Deaf Awareness Month

During the entire month of September, individuals focus on raising awareness on issues, people, and culture pertaining to the Deaf community. It’s important to note that both Deaf and hearing allies come together to celebrate the diversity of Deaf culture. 

Culture and Language

In Deaf culture, there’s a difference between “the small d” deaf and “the big D” Deaf. People who consider themselves deaf don’t identify with the Deaf community. This is because they only see their hearing loss as a medical condition. 

On the other hand, someone who identifies as Deaf feels culturally tied to the community of people who share the same experience. They’re usually proud of their deafness. 

Just because someone is clinically deaf, doesn’t mean they’re apart of the Deaf community. However, the way a person identifies is neither right or wrong. It’s simply a matter of preference. 

According to Gallaudet University, a renowned university for the d/Deaf and hard of hearing in Washington D.C., Deaf culture centers around the use of sign language and a shared community with other Deaf people. 

Dr. Barbara Kannapel is a Deaf sociolinguist who developed a definition for American Deaf culture as well. She defines Deaf culture to include a group of individuals who are deaf that share a common language – American Sign Language (ASL), values, rules, and traditions.

As long as we have deaf people on Earth, we will have signs, and…we can preserve our beautiful sign language in its original purity.” – George W. Veditz, Former President of the National Association of the Deaf, 1913

In order to learn about Deaf culture, it’s important to know about American Sign Language (ASL) since culture and language intertwine. Deaf Americans use ASL to communicate with other Deaf people or hearing people who understand the language. ASL uses both visual and gestural movements for communication. The language is filled with its own nuances, grammar, and complexities – just like any other spoken language. 

Nico DiMarco signs lets go for a walk in ASL
ASL is not a universal language. Many countries have their own sign language with completely different gestures and visuals! 

There are many people who contribute to and make up the Deaf community. They range from many different industries including entertainment, government, business, and more! 

Nyle DiMarco, Claudia Gordon, Rebecca Alexander, and Shoshannah Stern

Get Involved and Celebrate Deaf Culture

At 3Play Media, we care deeply about making the world a more inclusive and accessible space for everyone, including people who are d/Deaf or hard of hearing.

In celebration of National Deaf Awareness Month, we’re creating a series of blog posts with some of the past participants from Faces Behind The Screen, a storytelling project from people in the community. Some of our favorite participants will be sharing important phrases to learn in ASL. Don’t know ASL? No worries! You don’t need to know ASL to follow along.

In the meantime, there are a number of ways to get involved and spread awareness on the Deaf community.

  • Donate to a charity
  • Volunteer with an organization 
  • Educate yourself and others on issues pertaining to the Deaf community
  • Hold an event with both Deaf and hearing communities 
  • Create positive stories in media about Deaf culture 
  • Make your content accessible 
  • Learn and share unique stories from the community 

Check back on the blog throughout the month for more content on Deaf awareness!

visit Faces Behind the Screen

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