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"Deafhood Misconceptions Clarified"
with Genie Gertz
|Translation of "A Journey to Deafhood"
Hello everyone. My name is Genie Gertz, a Gallaudet University graduate in 1992. I am now a faculty member in the Deaf Studies Department at CSUN (California State University, Northridge) with a speciality in Cultural Studies. At CSUN - Deaf Studies we use a plethora of textbooks including Paddy Ladd's book on Deafhood for course readings.
I have been checking internet, reading the discussion on the blogs, and so forth. What touched me most was the discussion concerning Deafhood along the lines that one is not part of it; that is to say about deafhood excluding some people. I want to take this opportunity to clarify this misunderstanding.
Deafhood means a process, a journey for all Deaf people. It is not a measurement who is Deaf and who is not. It is a process of becoming the best Deaf human being one can become.
There are two definitions: deafness and deafhood. Deafness is a term often determined by the medical field that focuses on abnormality, diagnosis, and handicap. It also focuses on looking at deaf people as individuals with hearing loss.
On the other hand, deafhood is a process, not a state, which focuses on people's existential stances. Their existences strongly tie to normality, collectivism, and recognition of the shared beliefs and values.
This is not about labeling one another, not about whether you are a big "D" or a small "d". This is about all of us being deaf with full support of everyone's journey to reach Deafhood. That is to unite us all, not to divide us.
I had seen Paddy Ladd's message in one of the blogs and would like to emphasize some of his points he made. He is very inspired to see the concept of deafhood being spread out. This means a dialogue happening around, and being processed and analyzed. The definition of deafhood is a very complex one. It requires self-analyzing, exploring, and understanding what Deaf means to us all. Such processes are part of consciousness-raising. With all different interpretations and understanding we have, they will help us to envision where we come from and where we are going. With our different experiences and journeys, we will reach a common goal that is to unite us for Deaf humanity.
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