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Staring Openly—and Politely—at Strangers
As a little kid, my official babysitter in the afternoon was Sesame Street, and, like many in my generation, I remember watching the nice, curly-haired lady (Linda) try to teach all of us at home sign language. That, shamefully, is where my understanding of deaf culture begins and ends.
Today, however, is the last day of Deaf Awareness week, during which Encyclopedia Britannica blog has published a fascinating summary on the etiquette of deaf culture. For example, one rule: "Although your mother always told you not to stare, in Deaf culture staring is necessary. Breaking eye-contact while a person is signing to you is incredibly rude because it shows a lack of interest...It is the equivalent of plugging your ears."
For more unexpected dos and don'ts, check out the full article. Or brush up on your sign language with this vintage 1970s clip featuring Big Bird and Linda, who not only writes a letter to her mother (instead of texting) and buys a hat for five dollars (instead of $40) but also gently reminds us what it's like to live without speaking out loud or having others understand your language—a little unnecessarily difficult but, like most things, doable if you refuse if you refuse to give up.
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