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United States: Deaf Community

  • By: Russell S. Rosen
  • In: The SAGE Deaf Studies Encyclopedia
  • Edited by: Genie Gertz & Patrick Boudreault
  • Subject:Physical Disabilities, Otorhinolaryngology (Ears, Nose, & Throat)

Deaf people have lived in the United States since the nation’s founding. In time, they coalesced into a Deaf community. An appreciation of the history of the community requires its contextualization in the American societal realm. Confluences between developments in American social thought and Deaf people generated the formation, structuration, maintenance, and change of the Deaf community. The history of the U.S. Deaf community can be broken down into six stages: localism, regionalism, nationalism, preservation, strengthening, and differentiation of the community. These stages characterized the scope of the Deaf community at different times.

From the turn of the 19th century to mid-1810s, the United States consisted largely of vast tracts of farmland surrounding a few scatterings of metropolitan areas. Some Deaf people were located in multigenerational ...

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