Sign language and the politics of deafness

Bencie Woll, Robert Adam

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

8 Citations (Scopus)


In the context of Western society, the existence of the deaf community, deaf people's social identity, and the experience of deafhood (Ladd 2002) are the consequences of their experiences in the hearing world, not just as a result of exclusion but in equal part stemming from a desire to create structures alternative to those of hearing society. To be deaf is to have a hearing loss; to be deaf is to belong to a community with its own language and culture. Deaf communities parallel other minority linguistic communities in terms of linguistic and cultural oppression; by its very virtue of being a minority culture, the deaf community and its culture are oppressed by the majority culture (ibid.). In the deaf community the problems of communication and interaction with non-signing, hearing people are avoided. Through interaction with other deaf people, the individual is able to develop an awareness and acceptance of self. Through participation in the various organizations that make up the community, individuals are able to acquire a sense of self-esteem, which may be impossible to develop within the hearing world.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Routledge Handbook of Multilingualism
Editors Marilyn Martin-Jones, Adrian Blackledge, Angela Creese
ISBN (Electronic)9780203154427, 9781136578144
ISBN (Print)9780415496476
Publication statusPublished - May 2012


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