Unit 2 is all about Deaf culture and history. It’s crucial that sign language interpreters understand Deaf culture and history, deaf people, where they’ve come from, where they’re going, their organizations, their values, and their language of course! That’s what this unit is all about.
So think about what organizations you’re familiar with — what deaf organizations have been created in the history of this country, which ones are older, which are newer, what are their roles in deaf society? Speaking of roles in Deaf society, what is the interpreter’s role in Deaf society and how is that determined by the values of Deaf culture? How much are you a member of the community and in what ways? How can you relate to the Deaf community in a positive way? These are some of the questions that you’ll be considering as you study the items in unit 2.
It’s important to understand the basics of Deaf culture and Deaf history in the United States as well as to understand a little bit about deaf people in other parts of the world. One of the best ways to get a general overview of this topic is to view the PBS documentary called Through Deaf Eyes. This gives you a variety of different ways of looking at deaf history — and it’s a fascinating, well-made film.
You’ll also be reading selections from a book about Deaf history and perhaps you may even choose additional books about deaf history to read on your own. We’ll be visiting Deaf culture topics in Anna Mindess’ book and also in So You Want to be an Interpreter. Be sure to take time to ponder some of the more complex topics in this unit and perhaps even discuss them with colleagues and deaf people you know. It will be an interesting unit.