Deaf Culture

Is there really such a thing as “Deaf Culture” in Alberta? Absolutely!

Around the world, sociologists define a culture as being distinct when it has its own language, behavioural norms, values, arts, educational institutions, political, and social structure. By this well-accepted definition, it’s safe to say that Deaf people have their own unique culture. That’s why you sometimes see “deaf” identified with a capital-D. It’s the broader Deaf Culture that’s being identified.

Deaf Culture is not all encompassing though; it’s a very distinct group of people that differentiates themselves from those who are hard of hearing or deaf as a result of age, illness, or trauma. While this latter group of people may share similar physical conditions, they do not share the same history, knowledge, beliefs, and practices as those who are part of Deaf Culture do.

What are some examples of Deaf Culture?

  • Alberta’s Deaf Culture share a common language – American Sign Language (ASL), which is used as a first language. Most Deaf people consider English to be their second language.
  • Deaf schools include the Alberta School for the Deaf in Edmonton, the British Columbia School for the Deaf in Burnaby, and the Manitoba School for the Deaf in Winnipeg. Then there is Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C.; a private chartered university that was founded in 1864.
  • There are Deaf theatres, well-known deaf actors, writers, poets, painters, etc.
  • Magazines, journals, books, films, and television programming devoted to Deaf interests.
  • Groups supporting Deaf people all over Alberta and Canada. National organizations can be found in more than 120 countries.
  • Their own social and political structure.
  • Unique peripherals, which include equipment like videophones, assisted listening devices, flashing alarms, home safety alerting devices, vibrating watches and timers, etc.

Despite the richness of Deaf Culture, hearing society tends to view deafness and hearing loss as a medical condition that needs to be fixed. This of course, is not the case. Culturally Deaf Albertans have a clear identity, sense of self, and belonging. All of which should be celebrated!


If you want to help remove barriers and build bridges of understanding with Alberta’s Deaf Culture, consider making a donation to Deaf & Hear Alberta!