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Deaf Awareness: ASL

Submitted by kate.searle on Fri, 01/08/2016 - 09:48
By: Madeleine White

A catcher gives a sign to the pitcher to direct them; football players huddle up after every play; lights of ambulances, firetrucks, and police cars ring throughout the cities--and even more than that--each and every one of you pull out your phone to text people constantly throughout the day.  These are things that affect all of you every single day, but are you aware that all of those things come from deaf culture?  So many things throughout each of our days are influenced by the deaf culture, yet nobody really acknowledges the deaf culture.

To most, the deaf world is a far away culture that doesn’t affect them, or to some it’s not even existent. So many hearing people offend, harass, or even just ignore the deaf because we are simply just not aware. How many people are aware that calling deaf people, ‘hearing impaired’ or ‘hard of hearing’ is offensive?  Or aware that the word ‘dumb’ means unable to speak, and offends deaf people that ‘dumb’ is used so negatively?

Imagine sitting in your high school English class and being unable to hear what your teacher is saying to you, or a policeman trying to talk to you and being unable to understand, or your athletic coach trying to coach you, but you are unable to hear them.

We’re all aware of racism, sexism, and classism..but a problem most people don’t know about is audism.  Audism is the belief that an individual is superior because of one’s ability to hear and without even knowing it, many hearing people are audists. What hearing people don’t understand is that, they are in a place of privilege to have the ability to hear, and being that hearing people have the privilege--respect, knowledge, and AWARENESS should be given to everyone who is without the same privilege.

Here at Payson High School, ASL is a class offered. In this class not only do you get to interact with sign language but you also get the opportunity to learn and become aware of the deaf world and culture.

Saige White, a deaf student at PHS, says the following about the importance of deaf awareness, “In ASL class it’s pretty cool having a language that deaf people, well me, could communicate with!” She also noted that the hardest part of being deaf in a hearing school is making friends or learning.

 Mr. Jak, the ASL teacher here at PHS, says this about deaf awareness, “Most of the time it's a literal silent majority, and these are our friends, relatives, and coworkers that are usually denied a voice of their own.  It’s up to us to try and level the playing field.”  Be the voice for the deaf people by becoming aware and spreading that awareness, and in so many ways this simple task can make the world a much better place.