The William J. Marra Museum of Deaf History and Deaf Culture at the Kansas School for the Deaf has two exhibit halls and tells two stories. The first half of the museum is devoted to Deaf culture and the second half is devoted to the history of the Kansas School for the Deaf.
The 12 minute video that starts a visit to the Marra Museum explains that there are two different communities of those without hearing, those that are deaf (with a little "d") and those that are Deaf (with a capital "D").
The deaf community is the majority of those who have hearing loss and do not use American Sign Language. They are mainly people who become deaf later in life. They are likely to speak fluently, understand spoken language with the help of hearing aids and identify themselves as part of the hearing community. They may call themselves hearing impaired or hard of hearing.
The Deaf community is composed mostly of those who have been deaf since birth or very early childhood. Sign language is the first language of those people who identify with Deaf culture and community. The Marra Museum explains how sign language and Deaf culture developed, while also stressing that there are few differences in potential and ability between people who are with or without hearing.
Admission to the Marra Museum of Deaf History & Deaf Culture is free, though a $2 donation is encouraged. Although some visitors will view the 12 minute video, then hurry through the rest of the museum, I believe that the typical visit will be about and hour.
copyright 2009-2010 by Keith Stokes