The general public doesn’t know much about the deaf. The most common association is the lady blinking in the corner of the screen or people who”laughably wave their hands”. I think a lot of stereotypes come from the fact that you look at deaf people only as people with hearing disabilities, with a certain defect, a defect. This is at least a common approach to deafness and, I think, to disability in general.
The term in question, i.e. deaf with a capital letter, refers to identity issues, strongly indicates a sense of separateness from some majority. The basis is, of course, deafness, but it is not only deafness itself. To be deaf is to be a member of a cultural and linguistic minority; a minority that has its own language, culture, customs and history. It is a procedure modeled after the American deaf, who separated the deaf from the deaf and thus defined themselves. In polish, also speaking about people of a given nationality, we write their names with a capital letter-Polish, German, Russian.
A similar situation is with the deaf.
Deaf is a person who feels part of the deaf community, knows the Polish sign language, takes part in the life of this community. Deaf, written in small letters, is simply a medical term for a state of health-hearing loss. Here we have two different views on Deafness-culturally and linguistically and medically.
Interestingly, this can lead to various paradoxes. We have, for example, deaf deaf-those who hear nothing and blink at the same time, are members of our minority. There are also deaf people who are hard of hearing-they use cameras, some talk, some don’t, some even talk on the phone. They are deaf because they live in a deaf community, they use polish sign language. Deaf children of deaf parents, whose first language is sign language, are also part of the deaf community.
The term CODA-children of deaf adults (Eng. children of deaf adults-approx.ed.). Of course, we also have people of two cultures, moving in both worlds. There are also deaf people who are not deaf-they have been rehabilitated and their first language is polish, they have not learned sign language and feel part of the hearing majority.
What is important in this definition of deaf is the disconnection of health status and cultural and linguistic identity.
Another intangible thing is sign language.
I used to think it was just a universal translation of meanings into gestures, not a collection of separate languages. You know sign language? Can you tell us what it is like with mother tongues and what problems it entails?
Polish sign language is a completely separate language, differing from the Polish language in grammar and vocabulary. First of all, it is necessary to remember that in Poland deaf people use the Polish sign language (PJM). The term sign language itself is very general and also includes an artificial creation, the sign language system (SJM), created in the 1960s. XX century, introduced to schools in the 80s.