Redevelopment Threatens Oasis of Deaf Culture in D.C.

The students of Gallaudet University, one of the world's premier colleges for the deaf and hard of hearing, helped transform H Street into one of D.C.'s 'hippest neighborhoods'. Could the area's popularity extinguish an enclave of deaf culture?

"When businesses began sprouting up on H Street, they catered to a different type of urban pioneer," writes Robert Samuels. "Their earliest patrons in the mid-2000s were students from nearby Gallaudet, who were tired of slogging to places such as Adams Morgan, where bars had little idea of how to help them."

"Now, deaf waiters work at restaurants. People of all ages walk up and down the street using American Sign Language, or ASL. Bartenders know the sign for Jagermeister."

However, adds Samuels, "Like many redeveloping communities, H Street has struggled to balance the desires of older, black residents and its burgeoning young, white population. The deaf culture of the street adds a deaf-hearing element to this familiar tension, though progress is evident."

"But for all of the area’s success, some can’t help but wonder what will happen to the deaf-friendly atmosphere as the area becomes even more popular."

Full Story: D.C.’s H Street embedded with deaf culture

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