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Deafhood (N)

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The word “Deafhood” was first used by Paddy Ladd in 1993.

Understanding the concept of colonization is an integral part of the Deafhood philosophy. The term “Deafness”, and others like it, are seen as arising from the colonization process. Hence there was a need to develop a Deaf-centered term, “Deafhood”.

Deafhood includes:

    • The total sum of all positive meanings of the word “Deaf” — past, present and future
    • All the largest meanings of what Sign Language Peoples have been, are, and can become. Including:
      • all that Deaf people have created in this world
      • all that they created which has been lost to sight (because of colonialism)
      • all that they might create in future

According to Ladd, Deafhood requires deaf people to evaluate and liberate themselves from the oppression they have faced historically from the majority hearing society. To this process of self-liberation, Ladd writes:

"...I found myself and others coining a new label of 'Deafhood.' Deafhood is not, however, a 'static' medical condition like 'deafness.' Instead, it represents a process - the struggle by each deaf child, deaf family and Ddaf adult to explain to themselves and each other their own existence in the world. In sharing their lives with each other as a community, and enacting those explanations rather than writing books about them, deaf people are engaged in a daily praxis, a continuing internal and external dialogue." (Ladd, 2003:3)