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Deaf Culture Essay

In the history of deaf culture, there were many famous deaf people who have worked for the deaf community and deaf culture raising awareness about deaf people. Charles Krauel was one of the renowned people in the history of American Sign Language (ASL) and deaf culture. He was born in Ohio in the year 1880. He is one of the renowned deaf filmmakers who has made films regarding the US deaf social life and his work was mainly focused on how deaf people lived their lives during the period of 1925 to 1940. He was the filmmaker at the time when no one else was able to document the idea and also when the digital filmmaking or the concept of filmmaking did not exist. He and his friend, Chas Yanzito, are known as a pioneer of deaf filmmaking and provide the rich history on the evidence of ASL (D, 2013). At that time when the concept of ASL and other deaf issues did not exist, Krauel has the foresight to see the importance of the introduction of deafness and the social life of deaf people living the United States. In his time, there was no informal training for deaf people was available so he became a smooth signer with his own efforts and learnings. It all started when he bought his first camera in the year 1925 and started shooting the deaf people. His work was mostly about the rare films of get-togethers and small parties of deaf people in the early 20th century. He took several trips across America interviewing the deaf people during his traveling adventures (Burch, 2004). He also performed at the several events and filmed the performances of deaf people.

His tales usually consists of lives of deaf people living during the period of 1925 to 1940. He used to work with one of his closest friend named Chas Yanzito on the filmmaking. According to Supalla, the work of Krauel has been a great addition in the history of deaf culture and richest collection of movies and clips on the deaf community (“Rare, Old Films Show Lively Deaf Culture, Linguist Says,” 1995). The tales fit into the genre of documentary as the work of Krauel is mainly the short films and other events of daily life documenting the activities. The themes of deaf people, deaf culture, and their activities were usually incorporated in the films and through this Krauel has made an effort to preserve the history of deaf culture in the early 20th century. He often interviewed the couples, friends and people across America who were conversing happily in the sign language (Burch, 2004). One of the major themes in the Krauel’s work and films is the deaf entertainment and performances such as club performances, picnic events, and high school graduations. His work also recognized the successful deaf people such as deaf businessmen who were less known and not appreciated (Burch, 2004). If the work of Krauel would not have been there then the work on deaf culture would not have been this advanced. The goal of Krauel, the teller, was to aware the community about the deaf culture and how they can live a life being deaf. The get-togethers and events indicate that the deaf people were enjoying the life and having the normal life which people with proper hearing might think is not possible. Also, his primary motive was to tell the story of American deaf community through his work as the subject has not been widely discussed in the early 20th century and he wanted to reach out to people through his films (“Rare, Old Films Show Lively Deaf Culture, Linguist Says,” 1995).

The audience of Krauel was comprising of people from all walks of life and especially the people without the issue deafness. His work was about deaf community but for the people beyond the deaf community. His work can also be distributed among students and vocational rehabilitation centers working on the lives of the deaf people as well as in the ASL programs to enlighten people about the history of deaf people. Through his work, he wanted to reach out to the people other than the deaf community to dispel the myths about deaf people and their daily life. The work will be useful for students and researchers as well as adults both deaf and hearing because it is about the early deaf community (“Deaf Filmmakers,” n.d.). Because of the technological advancement, there has been the development of various devices have been devised to ease the life of deaf people. The hearing aids have improved the lives of the deaf people and the awareness among people regarding the deafness has increased. Also, the emphasis on the education of sign language has changed the life of the deaf people and deaf culture. In an interview in 1990, Krauel said the life of deaf people and even the sign language was different from what is being practiced today (Padden & Humphries, 1990). He further added that his signs were better and simple like short-cuts whereas the signs which is taught to children these days are long and difficult to drawn. He received the feedback for his work but most of the feedback was positive and appreciating his work. His work focused on the awakening people the lives of deaf people and also to preserve the history of sign language. He adjusted the constructive criticism of the people in his movies with the focus on more positive lives of the deaf people and the evolution of ASL.

The myths about deaf culture have been there since the earlier times and Krauel has combat the myth by documenting the lives of the deaf people. He has documented the activities from school events, to get-togethers, and to the weddings. His work is comprising of people communicating in a sign language happily on the streets. The art performances which are documented signify that the myths about deaf people at a disadvantage and having miserable lives are dispelled. The myth that not talking is an issue but the use of sign language and people communicating through sign language easily has combated the myth of deaf people. The focus on education and positive aspect of the deaf community have shown the way Krauel has combated the myths about deaf people. His work on the lives and daily life of deaf people in the American community is a real treat for the history makers and students as well as deaf people.


Burch, S. (2004). Signs of Resistance: American Deaf Cultural History, 1900 to World War II. NYU Press. Retrieved from

D, J. E. P. (2013). Music in American Life: An Encyclopedia of the Songs, Styles, Stars, and Stories that Shaped our Culture [4 volumes]: An Encyclopedia of the Songs, Styles, Stars, and Stories That Shaped Our Culture. ABC-CLIO. Retrieved from

Deaf Filmmakers. (n.d.). Retrieved March 9, 2018, from

Padden, C. A., & Humphries, T. (1990). Deaf in America. Harvard University Press. Retrieved from

Rare, Old Films Show Lively Deaf Culture, Linguist Says. (1995). Retrieved March 9, 2018, from



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