Deaf Culture is founded in 2 things, shared language and shared experiences. The Deaf Culture in America took shape at Martha's Vineyardseveral hundred years ago. American Sign Language mixed with Old French Sign Language combined to create the beautiful modern ASL we know today. The Deaf Culture at its core is filled with people who are pre-lingually Deaf and Sign Language dependent. Deaf individuals who do not use ASL but prefer to speak (Oral) or Cue (Cued Speech), Children of Deaf Adults (referred to as CODA) are also members of the Deaf Culture. Non-ASL dependent Deaf individuals, Sign Language teachers, interpreters, family members etc, are considered members of the Deaf Community. Deaf Community members cannot fully integrate themselves into the Deaf Culture. It would be similar to a light skinned/white individual attempting to tan themselves significantly. Their skin color may change, but their cultural experience remains distinctly different.

Several colleges are marked by their service to the Deaf Community/Culture. Gallaudet University in Washington D.C. is the only Deaf University. Gallaudet was signed into being by Abraham Lincoln and until recently only accepted Deaf students.Cal State Northridge (CSUN) in Los Angeles boasts 2,000 individuals on campus who sign and at any time housing between 200-400 Deaf students, making it the largest Hearing University serving the Deaf. RIT hosts NTID the National Technical Institute for the Deaf in upstate New York.

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