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Signing Communities

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

In the context of this entry, signing communities are defined as communities where Deaf people use sign language to communicate with either hearing or deaf co-inhabitants. Such places (whether real or imagined) are regarded as different from the mainstream where deaf people mostly are surrounded by hearing nonsigning people in their families, schools, and workplaces. Examples in which signing communities have been envisaged or planned such as Flournoy’s commonwealth and Laurent, South Dakota, are discussed. However, as these attempts were not successful, first and foremost, the focus is on real-life situations in which a majority (or at least a very large number of people) know and use sign language: shared signing communities.

Shared signing communities are villages, towns, or groups in which, because of the historical ...

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