Deaf people form a distinct community with its own culture. Sign language is the glue that binds that culture together.
Deaf culture has its own language, values, rules for behaviour and traditions. Some of these cultural aspects are a function of using a visual language rather than an oral one, including:
- Deaf people ask for attention by waving, stamping, touching or tapping one another, or switching lights on and off.
- In conversation, every contact is very important and people need sufficient personal space for arm movements.
- Deaf people can’t interrupt conversations the way hearing people can. They need to see what is being said, so they can only pay attention to one person at a time. Deaf people wait for the person who is signing to stop before the next person signs.
- Dim lighting makes it hard to see facial expressions and NZSL.
- At meetings, the audience/groups will sit so that people can see each other – often in a semi-circle or a circle.
Find more information here:
Facts about Deaf
Rights of a Deaf Person
New Zealand Sign Language is the natural language of the Deaf community and is used by more than 24,000 people every day in New Zealand.
Find out more about New Zealand Sign Language