Wellesley celebrates Deaf culture through storytelling
Published: Tuesday, April 3, 2012
Updated: Friday, April 6, 2012 21:04
“Culturally Deaf people tend to believe that they should not be labeled as ‘disabled’ and that they are just part of a community that has its own language and values just like any other cultures,” Lu explained.
According to Lu, a common misconception about Deaf culture stems from the fact that many people do not recognize ASL as a distinct language with its own grammar and vocabulary.
“A lot of schools don’t offer ASL as a class because they don’t recognize it as a foreign language and that is a big issue here in this country,” Lu said. “If you label ASL just as an extension of spoken English, then that gives people the idea that it’s just a one-to-one mapping of English to ASL. There are some nuances in ASL that cannot be directly translated into or be appreciated in English.”
While last year’s Deaf awareness event featured a panel discussion and a film screening, this year’s event was entirely centered on performance and storytelling. For the first half of the event, Mikey Krajnak, a Certified Deaf Interpreter who was born deaf to hearing parents, gave a lecture in ASL about Deaf culture and the art of storytelling within Deaf culture. In particular, Krajnak highlighted the parallels and differences between storytelling within Deaf and hearing cultures, and how passing down stories from generation to generation has historically been one of the most important aspects of Deaf culture.
Both Krajnak’s lecture and Kraft’s performance were translated into spoken English by Chris Robinson and Aimee Schiffman-Robinson, ASL interpreters.