Glossary (Version 8.4)

Disability Discrimination Act.

A local, national or transnational network of people who share the language and culture of Deaf people and a history of common experiences. A primary unifying factor in Deaf communities is the use of sign language.

The beliefs, values, traditions, history, social norms, literary traditions and art shared by deaf people who belong to the Deaf community. Culture is understood as a framework in which things come to be seen as having meaning. It involves the lens through which people:

  • see, think, interpret the world and experience
  • make assumptions about self and others
  • understand and represent individual and community identity.

Culture involves understandings about ‘norms’ and expectations, which shape perspectives and attitudes. It can be defined as social practices, patterns of behaviour and organisational processes and perspectives associated with the values, beliefs and understandings shared by members of a community or cultural group. Language, culture and identity are closely interrelated and involved in the shaping and expression of each other. The intercultural orientation to language teaching and learning is informed by this understanding.

A network of businesses, services and connections owned or managed by deaf people in positions of influence and authority, who share this social or political capital with other deaf people in culturally appropriate ways, so contributing to the status and social connectedness of the larger Deaf community. Examples of such reciprocity and support include sponsorship, profile-raising, the sharing of skills, expertise and knowledge, status support and social entrepreneurship opportunities.

A reference by some scholars to the cultural lens through which the world may be viewed by a Deaf person. It can also refer to deaf people’s ability to process simultaneous information through enhanced peripheral vision, as deaf people rely on a wider range of acute visual input rather than sound.

A family in which deaf people appear in two or more consecutive generations. Deaf families have a crucial role in Deaf communities as they carry linguistic and cultural knowledge and expertise between generations, and disseminate this knowledge among other deaf individuals within their community, most of whom rely on peer-to-peer transmission of sign language and Deaf culture.

A term used to reframe the term ‘deaf’, from the traditional pathological perspective of ‘hearing loss’ often held by wider society to a view of deafness through the lens of bicultural diversity. Being deaf is seen as an individual and social gain and as a positive form of diversity that involves cognitive and sensory changes that have the potential to contribute to the greater good of humanity.

A specialist who provides interpreting and translation services, often working between a signed language, a form of a spoken/written language, another signed language or other visual and tactile communication forms. As a deaf person, the Deaf Interpreter has a distinct set of formative linguistic, cultural and life experiences that enables more nuanced comprehension and interaction in interpreted events than is possible for most hearing sign language interpreters.

A site of historical or cultural significance in the Deaf community; usually connected with traditional meeting places of deaf people, such as schools or centres of regular social, religious or sporting gatherings. A Deaf place may continue to have cultural and historical significance for the community when no longer used for its original purpose or formally owned by deaf organisations. Deaf places are often sites where sign languages and Deaf culture are learned, as most deaf people do not learn them from deaf families at home.

A space in which deaf people feel comfortable interacting and using signed language. Deaf space can encompass established Deaf place(s) or spaces which have been customized to enhance visual access for deaf people, for example with good lighting, clear sightlines and architectural or design features which allow deaf people to navigate, communicate and elicit environmental and social information easily. Classrooms and workspaces can be modified to incorporate Deaf space design principles.

When referring to deaf people who belong to a linguistic and cultural minority known as the Deaf community, the ‘D’ may be capitalised in reference to the individual, the group, or the culture in order to accord respect and deference, for example, the Deaf community. This is similar to referring to French people, members of the Macedonian community or Indonesian culture. When referring simply to audiological status or when cultural affiliation is not known, as in the case of a person with a hearing loss in general, the lower case ‘d’, as in ‘deaf’, is the more common usage.

The term coined by Dr. Paddy Ladd to describe the process by which deaf individuals become self-actualised; the journey they travel to develop their Deaf identity and to maximise their potential.

A capacity to step outside familiar frames of reference, to consider alternative views, experiences and perspectives and to look critically and objectively at one’s own linguistic and cultural behaviour.

A referent may be marked as definite when it is clear from context which particular referent is being discussed. It is marked as indefinite if it is being mentioned for the first time or the signer does not mean any particular referent.

Depicting sign (DS) is a partly lexical sign that is highly iconic and can be modified in a gradient way by a signer. Depicting signs can act as verbs or nouns depending on their use in context.

Entity depicting signs are those in which the handshape represents an object, and the object can move around or be located in space mirroring real-world movement and location.

Handling depicting signs are those where the handshape represents how a human hand holds or touches an object and the movement shows how something is moved around or located in space

Size and shape specifiers (SASS) depicting signs are depicting signs in which the handshape and movement are used to outline the size or shape of an object. The handshape is formed as if handling the actual entity being described (or a miniature of it) and the movement is a mirror of the hands, as if they are tracing the size and shape of the object.

A variant of a language that is characteristic of a region or social group.

Audio, visual or multimodal texts produced through digital or electronic technology which may be interactive and include animations and/or hyperlinks. Examples of digital texts include DVDs, websites, online literature and presentations.

See Indicating verbs.

Signs or gestures used to direct the flow of a signed text that indicate how something relates to something earlier or how a signer feels about what they are signing.