These churches include the Pilgrim Lutheran Church of the Deaf, International Deaf Mission, Los Angeles Deaf Church., Holy Angeles Catholic Church of the Deaf and the Grace Bible Church of the Deaf, to mention a few. There is also a presence of the Jewish deaf community. When it comes to education, the Los Angeles area has a sizable program at the California State University Northridge with a National Center on Deafness. As a region, California has several schools for the deaf with both oral and signing or total communication. There is also a program for the deaf and hard of hearing program in the Los Angeles Unified School District. All these factors make Los Angeles and California as a whole a "deaf friendly" region for the deaf communities in it.
American Athletic Association of the Deaf
According to the USADSF, in 1945, the Akron Club of the Deaf in Ohio sponsored the first national basketball tournament at which time it established the American Athletic Union of the Deaf which was later renamed the American Athletic Association of the Deaf ("About USADSF"). It was later renamed the U.S.A. Deaf Sports Federation or USADSF in 1997. This association mainly purposes to foster and regulate uniform competition rules as well as provide social outlets for deaf members and their friends. It also serves as a parent organization of national sports organizations, conduct annual athletic competitions and assist in the U.S. teams participation in international competitions. It is the only recognized national athletic association that coordinates the participation of American deaf and hard of hearing persons in international competitions. It is also affiliated with the International Committee of Sports for the Deaf (Stewart 74).
The deaf athletes are different from other athletes on the playing field by their loss of hearing and are all united on the USADSF's national teams by their virtue of experiences they share as well as the challenges they face. Former and current athletes act as ambassadors within the United States and around the world and serve as role models either actively or by example to the youths who are deaf and hard of hearing. Little interest is put in whether one is playing for a medal or not. More importance is put on ones dedication and on giving their best ("Athletes ").
The deaf and hard of hearing community, like any other community, has its own publications. These publications are both independent or have been put out by various organizations that focus on the deaf and hard of hearing. There have been several publications which include the silent news, the SIGNews and Deaf Times among others.
i. The Silent News
The Silent News was first published in 1st January, 1969. It was the first publication that catered exclusively to the deaf and the hard of hearing. The publication reprinted stories from the media on deafness and also carried its own original content as well. It struggled to survive during its existence and its publishing ceased with its founder's, Julius Wiggins, death in 2001 (Berke). It suffered financially in its bid to survive financially and even outlasted its competition. Later years saw competition from a competition between the Silent News, DeafNation and Newswaves with the other two eventually losing to Silent News. It did expand to the internet in a bid to broaden its coverage. In its last years, it carried more original reporting and decreased reprints. There were also advertisements by vendors of deaf and hard of hearing products and services.
After Silent News ceased publishing, the Communication Services for the Deaf, CSD, launched a print paper in October 2003 called the SIGNews which also featured some of the former writers from the Silent News (Berke). It is printed once a month with its information targeting members of the signing community. This publication offers information meant to unify and strengthen the deaf and hard of hearing community. The paper contains articles on news, investigative reporting, humor, sports, community activities and cartoons among others ("About SIGNews"). Its layout is specifically designed with photos and accessible text that are placed prominently on each page in an aim to satisfy the visual eye. It also serves as a forum for its readers through encouraging exchange of current news and events through informing, educating and presenting topics for discussion (Jenkins 147).
DeafNation Inc. was founded by brothers, Joel and Jed Barish in 2003 and is the international leader in video content, news coverage, social networking and special events for the greater deaf and hard of hearing community. DeafNation Inc. organizes an annual tour of 10 to 15 expos that take place all over the United States which is called DeafNation Expo, as well as DeafNation.com which is an exclusive social network that offers resources for the hard of hearing and the deaf where they post blogs or online videos providing in-depth coverage on current news, world events and other international and local outstanding individuals. The DeafNation offers a one-stop center for news for the deaf and the hard of hearing individuals. The site covers international events including Deaflympics and World Deaf Basketball Championships and other big events ("About DeafNation").
Deaf social clubs are an important part of the Deaf culture. The Deaf and hard of hearing consider the social clubs as a second home where they get to socialize, swap information, make deals, get services among others. The clubs are usually run by volunteers who are always available for this purpose. Though the numbers of clubs are dwindling, deaf social clubs were important for developing leadership capabilities (Gall 172). People are able to gain enough confidence which they eventually carry with them to the mainstream society. Social clubs also served as a place for socializing where the deaf are able to interact with other different individuals rather than be stuck in their own groups that they are used to (Lane 158).
American Sign Language
This has been defined as one of the least understood languages in the world today, but its complexity only adds to its beauty. The American Sign Language has helped tap the creativity of the deaf and those who are hard of hearing. It is however incomprehensible by those with good hearing. It can be comprehended as a language that is dependent on hand and arm movements in combination with postures and unique facial expressions. This does not mean that it is the only way through which the deaf and the hard of hearing are able to communicate. American Sign Language has been said to be the 4th most common language in America. Sign language varies from according to region and country which are reflective of the cultures and expressions that are common to them ("American Sign Language").
The roots of the origin of the American Sign Language are a bit obscure and the language was already a language before it was declared as a language or even acknowledged. For a long time, deaf children were considered to be impossible to teach and as a result not allowed to attend classes with normal children. Schools for these children specifically were created in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries focusing on teaching them to read lips, speak and also master their native tongue but once outside and socializing, these children developed informal signs which they used to communicate (Padden and Tom 108). A system of signing was developed and used in the 1770s and was taught by one deaf individual to another and when they met others like them they shared new signs and as a result spreading the language and developing the system. These informal signs were eventually changed to fit the English language form and grammar when the first school for the deaf was started in the United States by Laurent Clerc, a well educated deaf man, and Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet who was an American Congregationalist minister. The American Sign Language has gained respect steadily and is the language of choice for children who are born deaf or those who become deaf before they are able to learn English. The American Sign Language has gained a respectable status in high school and collegiate levels and has been taught as an option for fulfilling foreign language requirements. It is a tool for communication that has brought together the hearing and non-hearing American closer together ("About ASL").
In many respects, sign language is highly organized, with a rich vocabulary and with grammar that is rule-governed. Unlike other languages, when using sign language and information is processed through the eyes and not through the ears. This means that facial expression and body movement are a major part of communication when using sign language. When using spoken language, there is an arbitrary relationship between most words and the objects and concepts they represent. This is also the same in sign language whereby signs do not necessarily suggest or imitate the thing or idea which they might represent and must be learned. Sign language may be…