Deaf Culture in China
For Kids and Teachers
Deaf Culture in China
Deaf culture in China is very different then the United States. China is behind the United States in teaching sign language to its deaf population. China is the world's most populous country and has the world's largest deaf population. There are 3 million deaf people in China. Sign language has not become the communication and teaching language in many deaf schools until the last 20 years. Deaf education in China has been using an oral teaching model. Oral teaching is when you teach the deaf to mouth words. In 1887 American missionary CR Mills founded the first deaf school in Yantai China. There are now 644 deaf schools with 120,000 students.
Chinese sign language looks like the written letters. 80% of deaf children receive an education now. Many do not use standardized Chinese sign language. Standardize Chinese sign language is called CS L and it has been improving since the late 1950s. Most CSL signs look like written Chinese characters.
In some ways CSL is similar to ASL. CSL looks like written Chinese characters which is similar to how the ASL manual alphabet looks like the written English alphabet. For example the CSL signed for person looks exactly like the written Chinese character for person. Two index fingers pointing to each other with the right index slightly higher than the left forming an inverted V means person. This is because CSL has just signed the exact written Chinese character for person. Most deaf children leave school with an education three grades lower than their hearing peers. There are many similar signs, female in CSL means birthday in ASL.
Deaf culture is more accepted in today's China. This silent restaurant opened originally as a way for the owner to give his deaf son and people like him a place to mix socially. Of the 30 staff members 22 are deaf. Their hope is to give jobs to the deaf people in China.
Estimates say there are around 3 million deaf people in China. In 2001 the Tianjin school for the deaf adopted Chinese sign language as their main method of communication and has made an effort to have deaf employees. Recent media attention has led to sign courses in universities and a deaf pride movement has begun. Deaf culture is now more valued in China and there are some new bilingual bicultural schools for the deaf.