Deaf culture has become an enormously popular term and its presence in deaf education has become much more visible, particularly in relation to the teaching of reading and writing to young deaf children. Likewise, although the term functional literacy is familiar, the word literacy used by itself is new and powerful. This term is being used in public, academic, and educational discourse to mark a phenomenon that is different from reading and writing. It is possible to think about the new ideas of Deaf culture and literacy as part of a new educational enterprise, but the connections between the two are not always easy to sort out. We think it would be worthwhile to identify the key elements of these new ideas and sort out how they might be brought together. Let us begin with a few basic questions.
• What is "literacy?" How is it different from just "reading and writing?"
• What is Deaf culture?
• What is the relationship between culture and literacy?—and between Deaf culture and literacy?
• What is the relationship between literacy and face-to-face language?—and between literacy and American Sign Language (ASL)?
• How can we move from theory to practice? What new research is needed to help us understand the relationships among literacy, Deaf culture, and language?