Nurturing Cultural Awareness in the Online World
In today's increasingly interconnected world, where digital communication transcends geographical boundaries, fostering understanding and unity within the Deaf community has become more essential than ever. The convergence of internet studies and Deaf studies illuminates the unique challenges that Deaf individuals encounter in online environments. Keeping this in mind, this blog post delves into the profound significance of cultivating Deaf culture awareness as a catalyst for fostering genuine connection and unity among individuals within the Deaf community and beyond.
Understanding Deaf Culture and Identity:
Deaf culture is a vibrant and unique community with its own distinct language and cultural practices, notably American Sign Language (ASL) (Saunders, 2016). However, expressing oneself effectively online can be challenging for Deaf individuals, as written English and videos may not fully capture the richness of ASL.
Online Accessibility and Representation:
Research has shown the importance of online accessibility for the Deaf community and the development of Deaf cultural identity (Saunders, 2016). However, societal biases, such as audism or oralism, can impact the credibility and representation of the Deaf community in online platforms. Additionally, incidents of cultural appropriation and exploitation, where non-fluent individuals gain from ASL without understanding its cultural significance, need to be addressed.
Toxic Impulsivity and Cyberbullying:
Toxic impulsivity and cyberbullying are prevalent issues within online discussions, including those within the Deaf community. These behaviors continue negative attitudes and stereotypes (Saunders, 2016). Fostering respectful discussions online is crucial in creating a supportive and inclusive online environment for the Deaf community.
Media Influence and Cochlear Implants:
Media plays a significant role in shaping perceptions of the Deaf community. Portrayals of cochlear implants as a "cure" for deafness can lead to misconceptions and undermine the importance of sign language (Saunders, 2016). It is essential to recognize the value of sign language for language and cognitive development in Deaf individuals.
Below you'll find an infographic on tips for cultivating Deaf Awareness!
Cultivating Deaf culture awareness is essential for fostering connection and harmony within the Deaf community. By recognizing the unique linguistic and cultural aspects of American Sign Language (ASL), understanding the historical achievements and contributions of Deaf individuals, attending Deaf events, and advocating for accessibility, we can create a more inclusive and supportive environment.
Learning about Deaf history and the valuable contributions of Deaf individuals throughout history highlights their resilience, creativity, and significant impact on various fields. It allows us to appreciate their rich cultural heritage and challenge the notion that deafness is a limitation. By actively engaging in ASL courses, supporting Deaf artists and creators, challenging stereotypes, attending Deaf events, and advocating for accessibility, we contribute to a more inclusive and supportive environment for the Deaf community.
Thrive Together commits to spreading awareness, celebrating Deaf culture, and promoting understanding, to ensure a brighter future for the Deaf community in all aspects of life. Join us and let’s thrive together.
Saunders, K. C. (2016). A Double-Edged Sword: Social Media as a Tool of Online Disinhibition Regarding American Sign Language and Deaf Cultural Experience Marginalization, and as a Tool of Cultural and Linguistic Exposure. Social Media + Society, 2(1), 205630511562452. https://doi.org/10.1177/2056305115624529
About the Author
Megan Lillie is a first-generation college student currently pursuing a B.A. in Communication Studies at the University of Iowa. Alongside her major, she also is pursuing minors in American Sign Language and Human Relations. Megan actively promotes ASL as an Ambassador, encouraging new students to take ASL classes. Additionally, she serves as an Event and Communication Coordinator for an organization that advocates for mental health dogs on campus throughout the year. Megan’s personal journey as an abuse survivor has shaped her into an empath, and a passionate advocate for mental health and trauma. In addition to her academic pursuits and advocacy work, Megan shares her life with two cats and her partner’s 155-pound Great Dane, wholeheartedly nurturing her love for animals. Exploring hiking trails and seeking personal growth are among Megan's top ways to spend her time. To read more about her experiences and insights, find Megan on Medium: https://medium.com/@meganlillie