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The Layman’s Guide to the Deaf Community

Posted on November 12, 2019 by All In

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A community is a group of people who share the same language (in this case, Singapore Sign Language) as well as a common culture and sense of bonding. The Deaf community is made up of individuals – both deaf and hearing – who embrace and adopt Deaf culture and sign language as part of their identity.

Did you know?

Deaf Culture is recognised under Article 30, paragraph 4, of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities). This convention has been signed and ratified by the Singapore government.

Deaf Culture

This refers to a way of life, common practices and sense of identity that Deaf people share in areas that are linked by their deafness. These include social beliefs, behaviours, values, literary and/or artistic traditions, history and institutions.

For those who identify themselves in this group, they refer to themselves as ‘’Deaf” (with a capital D), and sign language is their main mode of communication.

Other components of Deaf Culture are:


The most important values in Deaf culture are:

  1. acknowledging the importance of sign language; and
  2. self-acceptance of one’s deafness as a personal trait rather than a disability or deficiency.


Sign language is the common language of Deaf people. It is one that gives them a sense of belonging and community. It binds them as a cohesive whole.

Behavior rules

Deaf people, as a group of like-minded individuals, have certain learnt or adopted behaviours that are distinct from the other communities. For example, Deaf people will often stand to speak in a large group so that their signs can be clearly seen by all present.


Like all other cultural communities, the Deaf communities have their own traditions. Examples include annual celebrations of the International Week of the Deaf and Day of the Deaf. These events bring all Deaf persons in the community for a time of community bonding and acknowledging achievements.

Name signs, common life experiences, and a shared heritage make up the traditions of the community and, in turn, reflect its cultural values.

How do Deaf and Hard-of-hearing people communicate?

For Deaf people, barriers to access are rarely about physical obstacles. The most common challenge faced by the Deaf is the lack of access to information. This is because information is often conveyed through verbal or auditory methods, or via direct interaction with people who do not use sign language.

People who are Deaf or hard of hearing should have the right to information in accessible formats – such as through sign language, interpreters, subtitles and captions – across all forms of media. With full and equal access to information, they will then be able to make informed decisions.

Communication aids

  • Sign language interpreter
  • Communication Access Real-Time Translation (CART) / Stenography
  • Note-taker

Assistive devices

  • Vibrating alarm clock
  • Hearing aid
  • Cochlear implant

Information aids

  • Visual fire and door alarms
  • Visual or textual announcements

SADeaf is an All In Preferred Partner.

Established in 1955, the Singapore Association for the Deaf (SADeaf) has been serving the Deaf and Hard-of-hearing community for the past six decades. SADeaf is a member of the National Council of Social Service (NCSS), and is supported by Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) and Ministry of Education (MOE).

The association is also affiliated, internationally, to the World Federation of the Deaf (WFD) and, locally, to the Children Charities’ Association (CCA).

This article was originally published by SADeaf and republished with permission and minor editorial amendments by All In.

All content found on the All In website, has been created for informational purposes only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment.

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