Traditionally, and production process 4. Means of expression of

Traditionally, community media (CM) is defined by its
geographical boundaries and ethnic components, it’s also considered as separate
from commercial, state run media, or public broadcasting. However, when using a
CM framework to engage specifically with the Deaf Community, this approach does
not anticipate the complex make-up and nature of the community itself. Instead,
taking Cohen’s (1989) approach to understanding CM, he argues for a re-conceptualisation
of CM to

“shift away from the structure of community towards a
symbolic construction of community and in order to do so, take(s) culture,
rather than structure as point of departure” (Cohen, 1989, p. 70).

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In this way a community is created by its members, who
acquire a collective identity from the community’s construction. Thusly, there
are key characteristics that define CM in this way as outlined below.

1.      
Access by the community

2.      
Participation and contribution by the community1

3.      
Inclusion of the community in ownership and
production process

4.      
Means of expression of the community (not for)

– Berrigan, 1979

CM forums are typically developed on a not-for-profit,
democratic basis and are dependent on voluntary participation in production and
in management by members of its community.  CM is both important and beneficial to the audience
serves for a plethora of reasons. For example, it actively contributes to
peoples’ ability to improve their social and economic conditions, opens a
platform to tackle discrimination, audism and racism, facilitates the growing
participation of the democratic development of their community (and/or country)
and acts as an alternative to mainstream commercial content.

1 participation
is seen here as a process where the individual members (of a community) have a
certain degree of power to influence or determine the outcome of that process (Pateman,
1972, p. 71).