Deaf Art and Culture
The Deaf community is a vibrant group of individuals bonded through their unique language and focus on using vision in order to communicate. American Sign Language (ASL) is the primary means of communication for most Deaf Americans and quite a few Deaf Canadians. This sophisticated visual language uses hand gestures, facial manipulation, and body orientation to allow deaf people to share information. Additional forms of sign language are also used in other parts of the world. Through using their language, deaf people can interact on various levels including intellectual, emotional, social, and mental. In addition to having a separate language, the Deaf culture can be identified by its distinctive history, folklore, values, social customs, and schools.
Those who are a part of the Deaf community understand that being deaf does not mean that they are disabled or any way deficient. Instead, these individuals just have a different way of experiencing the world. This altered point of view, however, does not limit the creativity of those who are deaf. In fact, the Deaf community has its own creative expressions in the art, music, theatre, sports, and literature. By taking part in these pursuits, deaf individuals are able to become role models for their communities and expose the positivity of this community to hearing individuals interested in learning more about Deaf culture. By this means, celebrities and advocates who are deaf can help to overcome misconceptions and negative attitudes that may exist among the hearing while empowering deaf children to understand happiness and success is possible. The many art and culture resources available for this community display the depth and diversity of the Deaf identity.
This site provides various videos of multiple ASL signs for those interested in learning or improving their knowledge.
Chuck Baird is one of the most well known Deaf artists who has been recognized for portraying themes relevant to the Deaf community in his work. His CBF helps emerging Deaf artist get their work seen and commented on by an interested community.
Deaf visual artist prove that creativity is a common factor of the human experience that is not dependent on whether an individual is hearing or deaf. Artistic works that represent the Deaf experience is referred to as Deaf View/Image Art (De’VIA). The National Technical Institute for the Deaf provides portfolios of Deaf artist representing different artistic formats including cartoons, painting, digital art, and sculpture.
Sports help those in the Deaf community showcase physical activity and interact in a competitive social setting by using sign language. Sports take place from the local to the international level with the Deaflympics being the largest sporting event for the group, Sanctioned by the International Olympic Committee, thousands of Deaf athletes compete in various summer and winter games including basketball, tennis, ice hockey, judo, and swimming.
Professional artistic training and education for deaf and hard of hearing individuals helps these individuals develop their creative talents and empowers the Deaf community. The ICODA runs various programs including a dance company that turns popular songs into ASL language and a touring theatre, which performs stories and poems using ASL and spoken English.
This Tony award winning theatre company has been showing performances featuring Deaf artists, music, spoken word, and ASL since the late 1960s. The NTD also holds workshops, has training programs for Deaf artists, and carries out productions all over the world.
Sean Forbes is a songwriter and deaf hip-hop musician. Through D-Pan, which he co-founded, Forbes helps make music accessible to deaf people by creating music videos using sign language.
The TIDFAF shines a light on the works made by Deaf filmmakers. The film festival is not about deaf related films but instead aims to raise awareness about the talent and cultural diversity found within the Deaf community.
Deaf film industry productions continue to grow and provide engaging, entertaining, and educational portrayals of the Deaf community. This PBS documentary looks at 200 years of history of the Deaf society and provides a realistic look at how deaf individuals interact with the world. First person accounts of deaf individuals and media artist are featured in the full-length film.
This organization campaigns for the linguistic rights, access to education, and cultural identity for the Deaf community throughout the world. The WFD also created the International Week of the Deaf an annual event in September that raises awareness of the Deaf community.