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Welcome 2 my deaf world

Background notes about the Australian Deaf Community
What is the Australian Deaf Community?
In every country in the world, Deaf people come together to mix and socialise, to play sport and to lobby for better services and conditions. In each country, this is the Deaf community. In Australia it is called the Australian Deaf community and, like other countries is tied together by a mix of sporting, political, religious and social associations. Many Deaf people from all over Australia know each well due to meeting and mixing with other Deaf people through different activities organised by each state's Deaf community.
Why does the Deaf community exist?
The Deaf community exists as a cultural and linguistic minority within the wider community. It provides each Deaf person with a sense of belonging, a place where identities can be developed, confidence enhanced, skills learnt and friends made.
The Deaf community plays a vital role in the life of each Deaf individual and plays a similar role to other minority groups within the community.
Most Deaf people still spend the majority of their day with hearing people, at work or with their family. They may also belong to hearing groups, sporting clubs and associations. However, the Deaf community is one place where they feel they fully belong and where no communication barriers exist.
How do Deaf people in the Deaf community communicate?
Deaf people communicate with other deaf people through Australian Sign Language, Auslan.
Deaf people are proud of Auslan and promote Auslan as the language of their choice as it meets all visual language requirements of Deaf people.
Who belongs to the Deaf community?
In the Deaf community, a range of degrees of hearing losses will be present, but the criteria essential to being accepted by other Deaf community members is the ability to use Auslan fluently and to accept the Deaf community's values and culture. The degree of hearing loss is not important in the Deaf community but the ability to sign well and to accept the Deaf community values and culture are very important.
Most members of the Deaf community were born with severe and profound hearing losses. Others have lost hearing in early childhood. Some Deaf people who have been raised to speak and lipread may join the Deaf community when they are teenagers or young adults when they are seeking a place of belonging or identity. These people will be accepted into the Deaf community if they learn Auslan and support the values and culture of Deaf people.
Most people who lose hearing later in life usually prefer to continue to use speech and lipreading to communicate. They very rarely become members of the Deaf community because of communication preferences and differences in life histories, culture and values.
Does the Deaf community have different values from the hearing community?
Yes. This is what is known as Deaf culture. Deaf culture may be described as the "deaf way of doing and seeing things"
Some examples of Deaf values which may be different to hearing values are:
Deaf people see themselves as a linguistic minority, not as disabled people.
Deaf people view Auslan as a fully fledged language which meets all their needs and are proud of this language.
Deaf people value their deaf heritage.
Deaf people highly valuing deaf babies.
Deaf people usually do not want their hearing restored; Deaf people value their deafness as part of their identity and have no desire to change their identity of who they are.

How is the Deaf community different from other groups of disabled people?
The Deaf community is different to groups for disabled people because Deaf people share a similar language and culture, different to that of the majority hearing community. Groups for disabled people are often mutual support groups who share the same language and culture as the majority culture.
Does the Deaf community have a history?
Yes. The Deaf community has a rich heritage, achievements, challenges and arguments. It is as rich and as long as any other history of a linguistic minority group.
Why do deaf people have their own sporting teams and why don't deaf people participate in the Paralympics for disabled people?
To feel a sense of belonging to any group, communication is vital. Physically, Deaf people are capable of the same sports as hearing people but they still need to feel they belong and communicate equally. They can do this by playing sports with other Deaf people, often against hearing teams.
That doesn't mean that Deaf people never play in hearing sports teams; many do and some play in both!
Deaf people do not view themselves as disabled so do not participate in the Paralympics. Because of communication differences, Deaf people feel very little connection with disabled people and so rarely mix or socialise with these groups.
Deaf people have their own state, national and international sporting events which are held regularly. The Deaflympics are held every 4 years and were held in Melbourne in January, 2005.
How many people with a hearing loss are there in Australia?
It is difficult to know how exactly many deaf people there are in Australia because of the difficulties in making sure everyone who has a hearing loss is counted.
Better Hearing Victoria estimate that 1 in 5 people over 60 in Australia experience some kind of hearing loss. A study from the Centre for Population Studies in Epidemiology in South Australia on behalf of Department of Human Services in 1998 estimated that the number of people over 15 years in Australia with a hearing loss greater than 25dB is 3.25 million people. This is 16.6% of the population.
How many deaf children are there in Australia?
Australian Hearing reported that in 2004, there were 11,479 deaf and hearing impaired children in Australia. The number of children for each state and their degree of hearing loss is shown in table two. Australian Hearing, 2004, states that about 72% of children with hearing aids under 17 years have a mild to moderate hearing loss in their better ear.
There are about 3000 profoundly deaf children in Australia. Many of these are teenagers who must one day make their way into the hearing world.
Of these approximately 1300 have hearing under 90db (Like Scott and Bethany) and another 1500 between 60-90db.
How many deaf people use Auslan?
Hyde and Power in a national research study (1991) found that there were 15,400 deaf people in Australia who use Auslan in daily communication.
  1. Aged Community & Mental Health Division, Vic. 1998. Guidelines for Mental Health Services. Working with People Who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing. Melbourne: Department of Human Services.
  2. Australian Hearing. 31st March 2004. Demographic Details and Aetiology of Persons under the age of 17 years with a hearing impairment who have been fitted with a hearing aid. Audiology Circular 2004-7.
  3. Hyde, M., & Power, D. 1991. The Use of Australian Sign Language by Deaf People. Research Report No.1. Nathan: Griffith University.
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