During Deaf Awareness Month, the Deaf community speaks out about the diversity within it as well as the challenges each member faces.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — For every 1,000 children born in the United States, two out of three have some level of hearing loss, according to the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders.

During Deaf Awareness Month, the Deaf community speaks out about the diversity within it as well as the challenges each member faces.

Sheena “Queen Foreverrr” Lyles is an actress and member of the deaf community.

“The deaf community has always been very siled,” Lyles said. “It’s been a black hole in the hearing world.”

Lyles said she didn’t learn much until she entered boarding school for the deaf.

“Then I saw more,” she said. “I learned more. I lived more.”

This is often the case for many deaf people. Marvin Miller is a Deafhood Foundation Instructor Facilitator.

“My parents are deaf, my grandparents are deaf – all my children are deaf,” he said. “It’s just a matter of pride for me.”

Through the Deafness FoundationMiller trains deaf people around the world.

“We didn’t learn a lot about ourselves growing up,” he said. “In 150 years of systematic oppression, our language and our culture have been banned for so long.”

“It’s only in the last 40 or 50 years that we’ve been able to come out of this oppression and really prosper,” he said. “We started looking at ourselves and thinking about what deafness means to us.”

Part of this process is recognizing the diversity within the community.

“People don’t realize here that I use American Sign Language, but there is no American Sign Language in the world,” he said. “There are other international sign languages, just like spoken languages. Included in this country, due to severe educational oppression, you will see deaf people who were brought up without learning their own native language.

This is why inclusion and understanding are so important.

“What I want the message to the world to be is just to get to know each other,” Miller said. “If all individuals learned sign language, I can’t even express how inclusive this world would be and how amazing.”

Lyles said the deaf community even has its own “jokes” but has goals of normalization.

“We want to raise awareness so that everyone feels like there’s some sort of normalization — similarities between the two worlds,” Lyles said.

These similarities can be revealed by understanding.

To learn more about the deaf community in Memphis, here is a list of Deaf Awareness Month events:

  • Comedy show Queen Foreverrr

Friday, September 16, 2022

Overton Square, 2085 Monroe Ave, Memphis, TN 38104

  • The future of deaf people!

Saturday, September 17, 2022

White Station High School Auditorium, 514 South Perkins Road, Memphis, TN

Saturday, September 17, 2022

Marquette Park, 4946 Alrose Ave, Memphis, TN 38117

  • Embracing Deaf Values ​​for Parents of Deaf Children

Saturday, September 17, 2022

First Congregational Church, 1000 South Cooper Street, Memphis, TN

Reception: 12 p.m. Presentation: 1 p.m.-4 p.m.