Carol Padden has defined Culture as a set of learned behaviors of a group of people who have their own language, values, rules of behavior, and traditions. (1988)
Culture results from a group of people coming together to form a community around shared experience, common interests, shared norms of behavior, and shared survival techniques. Such groups as the deaf, seek each other out for social interaction and emotional support.
The essential link to Deaf Culture among the American deaf community is American Sign Language. This community shares a common sense of pride in their Culture and language. There exists a rich heritage and pride in the ability to overcome adversity as individuals and as a group. Deaf power hit the World in 1988 at Gallaudet University, an event known as the "Deaf President Now" (DPN) Movement. The protest has made a mark in history and proves that Deaf Culture is Pride and that Pride is Power.
Mastery of ASL and skillful storytelling are highly valued in Deaf Culture. Through ASL Literature, one generation passes on to the next its wisdom, values, and its pride and thus reinforces the bonds that unite the younger generation.
Another feature of this Culture is the role of marriage. It is estimated that 9 out of 10 members of the American Deaf community marry other members of their cultural group. Many D/deaf couples also wish for a deaf child so that they may pass on their heritage and Culture, it is not just the language but the values, the same values that hearing parents want to instill in their children.
Carol Padden says Deaf identity itself is highly valued; members of the deaf community seem to agree that hearing individuals can never fully acquire that identity and become a full-fledged member of the deaf community. Even with deaf parents and a native command of ASL the hearing person will have missed the experience of growing up deaf, including residential school. For many members of the deaf community, speech and thinking like a hearing person are negatively valued in Deaf Culture.
As Harlan Lane states in his book Mask of Benevolence, there is a fierce group loyalty, and this may extend to protectively withholding information about the community's language and Culture.
Going back to residential schools, these schools provide a vital link in the transmission of Deaf Culture and Language. Children here are able to communicate in a language readily understood by each other. Deaf children are able to partake in social clubs, sports and importantly enough, to be around deaf role models. It is important for deaf children to be encouraged to further their education and to learn that deafness does not mean you cannot grow up to be successful and happy (success of course being at each persons own perspective on what success and happiness means to them individually.) This is not to say that mainstream education is iniquitous for deaf children, but we must keep in mind that socialization is essential to a child's growth and without a common language socialization is limited.