Martin Atherton
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Defining the deaf community and deaf culture in Britain
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Public perceptions of deafness and deaf people have been heavily influenced by medical views that deaf people suffer from a disability. For a significant proportion of the deaf population, these negative perceptions are at odds with the way they see themselves. These deaf people regard themselves as members of a vibrant deaf community, based on shared language and a common culture. This chapter clarifies what is meant by the terms ‘deaf community’ and ‘deaf culture’ by unpacking various models that attempt to determine who belongs in the deaf community, and what the cultural aspects of that community involve. A closer examination of these theoretical models indicates that certain aspects do not sit easily with the reality of deaf life. These models will therefore be challenged in the light of the evidence of deaf people’s shared leisure activities which will be presented in later chapters. A case will be made for taking a much broader view of who actually constitutes the deaf community than is suggested by these models.

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Deafness, community and culture in Britain

Leisure and cohesion, 1945-1995


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