A cultural event for the deaf

The building of knowledge and pride in the uniqueness of one's culture is important to the development of positive self-concepts within any minority group. For too long, deafness has been considered a medical condition: a loss of hearing. This paper argues for the need to recognize and document the unique qualities of Deaf culture and heritage. The 1980 Deaf Arts Festival, designed and organized by Robert Irwin Roth, is the basis for this project. The Festival was the first Deaf event to combine art exhibitions and performances by deaf people with lectures and discussions in Deaf culture: Deaf history, Deaf art history, Deaf theatre history, Deaf literature, and the development of American Sign language. This event was extremely successful in providing knowledge and understanding of Deaf culture to the deaf community and to the larger hearing community. This graduate project is presented as a documentation of the planning, coordination, and evaluation procedures used for the 1980 Deaf Arts Festival; and as a manual in the planning and organization of similar Deaf cultural events. It is the hope of the author that this paper will assist and encourage the development of such events in the future.