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date: 07 March 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter offers an introduction to the theoretical concepts underlying research on Deaf communities and Deaf culture, including a comparison of early views centering on the image of the deaf individual and later approaches seeing deaf people as members of social groups. It also includes the history of the concept of Deaf culture, models of Deaf communities, and and a consideration of ethnicity, identity, and cultural choice: Deaf communities as minority communities and subcommunities within Deaf communities. The central section of the chapter explores the origins of Deaf communities in relation to Deaf families and to deaf education. A multidimensional model is presented in the central section, and this is applied to case examples of various types of Deaf communities, starting with the European and American Deaf communities, and moving on to a consideration of village communities, including Martha’s Vineyard, Bali, the Yucatan, Bedouin, and Kano (Nigeria). These are then compared to case studies of isolated deaf individuals, the status of home sign, and the early development of Deaf communities and sign languages (including Nicaraguan Sign Language). These are used as a basis for describing studies of specific Deaf communities. In the final section, current issues in Deaf Cultural Studies are discussed.

Keywords: deaf, hard-of-hearing, hearing loss, home sign, village sign languages

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