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Culture and empowerment in the Deaf community: An analysis of internet weblogs

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Abstract

Although deafness is traditionally conceptualized as a medical problem or disability, about 500 000 deaf people in the United States identify as members of an ethno-linguistic minority that takes pride in being Deaf. This study examined 416 Internet weblog posts authored by nine Deaf bloggers to describe aspects of Deaf culture and individual and community level empowerment strategies expressed in weblogs. Results highlight aspects of American Deaf culture, such as the value placed on American Sign Language and equal treatment of D/deaf and hearing people. Findings also provide evidence of expressions of Deaf culture such as the use of humour and supporting the community that have been less emphasized in previous literature. Community level empowerment strategies evident in posts included disseminating information, rallying the involvement of members and advocating for social justice. Overlap between expressions of Deaf culture and empowerment strategies were also found. Present results inform a growing literature on empowerment strategies that occur without intervention by professionals. Implications of the study for community research and action are discussed. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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