Writing and Being Deaf

There is absolutely nothing to prevent deaf folks, whether culturally deaf and using ASL or not, from becoming writers. We can write. We can throw down poems from our minds on paper. We can shape the stories in our minds into the written word. We can also do this in ASL, but I ask: why not both?

Why not dismiss the idea of English as being a language that belongs to hearing individuals and reject the idea that to be a skilled writer, you need to hear. Reject it! Why not be bi-lingual, embracing both sign language AND this lovely and sometimes confusing language called English. (Well, truth be told- sometimes even ASL is lovely and confusing)

I like to imagine a day when people automatically think “good writers, most of them,” when they think of our deaf community.

How is this to begin? It begins with the turning of a page in a book. It begins with developing a love for reading, even if it’s difficult. Even if we have been let down by our schools or let down by others. Even if we haven’t been let down.

The only barriers that remain are the ones we allow to remain.

By J. Parrish Lewis

J. Parrish Lewis was born and raised in Maryland. In his youth there, he and his brother had many adventures in the dogwood forests near his home. His nostalgia for these adventures has strongly influenced his characters, their relationships, and their perspective on the world they inhabit. He moved to California’s coast to earn his degree in communications and now lives with his family in the San Joaquin Valley. Lewis is profoundly deaf and uses American Sign Language to communicate. He enjoys hazelnut coffee, captioned movies, and walking his dog.

3 replies on “Writing and Being Deaf”

I absolutely agree. There is a dire need to encourage deaf folks, like you said, ‘whether culturally deaf and using ASL or not’, to become writers. I know that they’re out there, but they’re extremely difficult to find. Most people do not realize this, but English is arguably the most difficult language to master of all the languages in the world. I could be wrong, but I’ve been told by colleagues whose first language is other than English say that once they mastered English, their understanding of their own language dramatically increased.

I, too, hope that day comes soon.

I agreed with you. Unfortunately, writing is not my strength. Someday, deaf community shall create a new version of reading book by using their true language (ASL) with subtitles for their education purpose. Not just for education, also, for hearing community who want to read our new version of book. 🙂

Unfortunate about the new version, they are expensive. Writing is much cheaper than trimming the videos. Time consumption.

My opinion, Matthew:

1) I’ve read your creative writing and I think you have a lot of promise, if you stay motivated.

2) While it’d be cool to see ASL “books” I do hope it wouldn’t replace English-language books for the deaf community. Why not have both? Other countries have a lot of bilingual folks, even in the deaf communities, so there’s nothing to prevent us as well!

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