Social Question

Vincent_Lloyd's avatar

Where are some places where I can meet people of the Deaf Community?

Asked by Vincent_Lloyd (2958 points ) April 16th, 2012

I have been taking American Sign Language as my foreign language in high school and I’ve grown to love it and I’ve also developed a passion for the language and the culture, and also the people. But my main goal is to be able to communicate to those who couldn’t. But I want to be able to meet someone that is deaf, so I can communicate at least a little and see what it’s like with a hearing person chatting with a deaf person. But, I also want to know where I can go where I can hone my Signing skills. Does anyone know of these two things? Please, I’d love to know!

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12 Answers

Aethelflaed's avatar

I would start with your teacher. Ask them if there are any upcoming deaf events you could go to – maybe a play done in ASL, maybe a conference. Your teacher probably has some kind of handout for ways to get involved with the deaf community.

WestRiverrat's avatar

Most regions and many states in the US have deaf schools, call them and ask how to get involved in the deaf community.

anartist's avatar

If you are around DC area, visit Gallaudet University—if you visit a university or college, also note the hangouts frequented by students. Those, such as oddly enough, at one time the Tune Inn on Capitol Hill, have at least someone on staff who knows sign and makes the deaf customer feel welcome.

I once was an artist’s model for a drawing class at Gallaudet [only one who was annoyed by the water faucet dripping in the sink during class lol] and when I took my lunch break on campus I picked up the student paper.

There was a long article about unpleasantnesses and problems between shopkeepers, restaurant & pub personnel and their deaf customers, stating that lots of these problems from failure to provide service to accusations of shoplifting were all caused by the inability to communicate. Which makes watering holes that make some effort a good place for deaf and hearing patrons to meet.

ucme's avatar

Celine Dion concert?

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

Vincent, ASL is not a ‘foreign’ language. I sincerely hope that the school isn’t marketing it that way. While ASL’s use of sentence structure differs from the spoken and written style, it still uses the same words. I’m not sure what you mean by developing a love for their culture. Deaf people share the same culture as the rest of the population in their area. And they can communicate. They sign, use body language, read lips, write, and many can speak. They just cannot hear.

Secondly, good for you for taking the course and for looking for ways to hone your new skill. When one sister was your age, she took a teacher’s aide job at the local school for the deaf and blind. She got to the point where she would sign without thinking even when she spoke, like during a phone conversation. @Aethelflaed offers great advice: ask your teacher. Ze should be able to help you find a source to enhance your new skill. Just keep in mind that they will be the one helping you and not the other way around.

Cupcake's avatar

@Pied_Pfeffer Here are some websites that disagree with your post.

ASL is a foreign language.
There is such thing as a deaf culture.

@Vincent_Lloyd Be careful about your wording… deaf people can communicate, as you know. Good luck!

reijinni's avatar

rock concerts?

marinelife's avatar

I would look for the nearest deaf college or university.

linguaphile's avatar

@Pied_Pfeffer With all respect and admiration for you, I need to disagree.

I’m a 24/7 ASL user and have studied the linguistics of ASL for 23 years— it is a completely different language than English. Some signers, not ASL users, will try to sign in English word order but that makes it very pidgin, not an actual representation of either English or ASL, but a mix that robs both languages of meaning, and I strongly believe, robs both of beauty. If you were to really get into the linguistics of ASL, it’s a real cognition shift for people who don’t realize how different from English it is.

So in that sense, yes, it is a foreign language. It is American, yes, but it is nowhere near English in structure, expression, prosody or even cognitive processing. This is an area of passion for me so I could really go on and on.

There is a Deaf Culture. If you look at anthropology—how do cultures develop? Through isolation, through shared interests, through shared language. There is the larger American culture, then there are subcultures—the Deaf Culture’s one of them. How we live our lives, think, function and perceive information is very different than those that can hear- yes, we are a community, but we also have distinctive ways of interacting that set us apart from the mainstream and we identify ourselves as Deaf. It exists—I live in it everyday and it exists as much as the Native American culture does. It’s .1% of the popluation, but it’s there.

However, I need to emphasize—not all deaf people choose to be part of the Deaf community or culture. Heather Whitestone does not choose to identify herself as Deaf, but deaf.

@marinelife There is only one university exclusively for the deaf/Deaf in the world- it’s Gallaudet in DC. Rochester Institute of Technology has a deaf college as part of their larger institute- the National Technological Institute for the Deaf. CSUNorthridge has a large program. Those are the ‘big 3.’

I am passionate about my community, culture and language, but I am not militant. I am very, very happy to answer questions, explain, go on and on and on—but one thing is… there are jellies on Fluther who do not feel I’m qualified to explain this, even after 23 years of linguistic and anthropological study, living, breathing, sleeping, eating, chatting, loving, breaking up, all that in this very community and culture some people don’t believe exists. To me, that’s exactly like an outsider telling an African American, Gay, or Jewish person that they’re not qualified to explain their communities- but because they’re more recongized, they’re more validated? That gets my goat.

My favorite thing about my culture? I have friends all over the world and can communicate with deaf/Deaf people in almost any culture, in person and on video phone. Because of the visual structure of our languages, we can communicate cross cultures pretty easily. The community’s so small, yet spread out, that the network is global— Are the Deaf isolated? Not at all—here’s a site you could explore to see what I’m talking about. Watch the “We Are Deaf” video.

To answer your question, @Vincent_Lloyd… you look like you’re in California—are you near CSUN? I am really pleased you are having such a positive experience!

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

@Cupcake and @linguaphile Thank-you for educating me on this subject. I hope that your posts and links are just as insightful to Vincent as they were to me. (And thank you both for being so kind in pointing out the error of my thoughts. :) ).

AngryWhiteMale's avatar

I can’t really top linguaphile’s answer (which I agree with wholeheartedly!), but to get back to @Vincent_Lloyd‘s original question: if you live near a college or university that offers ASL classes, you can always check with the instructors (as @Aethelflaed has more or less said) about events in your area. Usually the Deaf community will have social evenings at public places, such as “Ice Cream Social” or “Coffee Night.” These are good places to start, because ASL users will be there, both deaf and hearing, and you can usually find at least one person who will take the time to talk with you. As your receptive skills improve, you’ll be drawn into conversations, where you can practice your expressive skills.

Essentially, ASL is like any other language: you have to practice it, and as you’ve already surmised, the best place to practice is with and around native speakers. I wouldn’t start with a play or conference though; your best bet to socialize and acclimate your linguistic skills would be in the more casual settings of the social nights/events I mentioned.

WestRiverrat's avatar

A deaf church would be a good place to start also, if you are so inclined.

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