Language and identity: deafness in question

This paper approaches the role of sign language in the construction of deaf identity. Various authors have discussed how language relates to the construction of identity, pointing out that identity constitutes through meaning - when a subject means they becomes meaningful (Orlandi, 1998). We thus attempt to link this discussionto the field of deaf studies, considering that in the case of deaf children the privileged interaction partner is another deaf person. Most students have their first contact with this language in schools and institutions for the deaf. We have observed advantages when deaf teachers take over classroom teaching: one is that students are able to develop narrative constructions in sign language; another one is that this experience enables them to perceive themselves as deaf, and construct a deaf identity as early as 5-7 years., when they take on and differentiate roles in interaction, especially with regard to the deaf teacher and the hearing teacher. In the field of deafness, the bilingual education approach anticipates deaf people's awareness of the meaning of deafness, which until quite recently was occurred in adulthood.

Language; Deafness; Identity; Sign language


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