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The dynamics of identity-building in deaf individuals is captured by the concept of Deafhood. Ladd (2003: xviii) explains that he developed this concept in the 1990s to refer to “a process by which Deaf individuals come to actualise their Deaf identity, positing that those Deaf individuals construct that identity around several differently ordered sets of priorities and principles, which are affected by various factors such as nation, era and class.” Unlike the concept of deafness, which indicates a static medical condition, the concept of Deafhood refers to a process through which deaf individuals explain each other their existence in the world. Hence, implicit in this notion is the notion of the community and that of enacting what is explained (Ladd 2003: 3) (notice that deafness refers to the larger category of hearing-impaired, without reference to the Deaf collective existence or experience). Ladd (2003: 81) emphasises that the concept of Deafhood is neither monolithic nor simply “oppositional” (2003: 81); it rather “examines and presents the nature and significance of Deaf people’s relationships to each other.” Kisch (2008: 285) highlights the benefit of using the notion in that “[a]s an analytical category of subjectivity rather than labelling identities, ... it [is] particularly useful for imagining a range of shapes such a sense of being may take.” As this author explains, the concept of Deafhood is commonly absent in signers belonging to so-called shared signing communities, a notion introduced by Kisch (2008: 286) to refer to “communities where high rates of deafness occur, an indigenous sign language is shared by many hearing people, and a relative lack of disablement has been observed”. Nevertheless, Kisch acknowledges an emergent sense of Deafhood in the Al-Sayyid deaf community, the signing community she investigated in Israel.

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