Deaf culture: The creation of self and socialization through the use of sign language

Marisela Garcia, University of Texas at El Paso


There is a strong perception of the physicality of disabilities. The review of literature in this project shows that there is a large number of disability related studies in the field of communication that focus primarily on physical and/or visible disabilities. The purpose of this study is to incorporate research on hidden and/or invisible disabilities, specifically deafness. The literature in the field of communication relating to hidden disabilities is limited and much more limited in deaf related research. There are an estimated two thousand deaf individuals in El Paso. Their participation and integration in the community is hindered by societal barriers and attitudes. This is due in part to a lack of recognition that the Deaf culture does exist and a misunderstanding of language versus disability. Therefore, this research paves a way into the culture and specifically looks at sign language and bilingualism on the border. Through ethnography and interviews, this project addressed the following questions: 1) How does the Deaf community in the El Paso borderland region create identities and culture? The framework that supplemented this project was symbolic interactionism, the idea that through language, ourselves and identities are developed. Seven deaf participants were interviewed and based on their responses, there were four themes that emerged from this study: language as identities, situational languages, hidden culture and education as a change agent.^

Subject Area

Speech Communication|Sociology, Sociolinguistics

Recommended Citation

Garcia, Marisela, "Deaf culture: The creation of self and socialization through the use of sign language" (2012). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI1533227.