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Literacy and Deaf People

Cultural and Contextual Perspectives

Brenda Jo Brueggemann, Editor

Publication Year: 2004

This compelling collection advocates for an alternative view of deaf people’s literacy, one that emphasizes recent shifts in Deaf cultural identity rather than a student’s past educational context as determined by the dominant hearing society. Divided into two parts, the book opens with four chapters by leading scholars Tom Humphries, Claire Ramsey, Susan Burch, and volume editor Brenda Jo Brueggemann. These scholars use diverse disciplines to reveal how schools where deaf children are taught are the product of ideologies about teaching, about how deaf children learn, and about the relationship of ASL and English. Part Two features works by Elizabeth Engen and Trygg Engen; Tane Akamatsu and Ester Cole; Lillian Buffalo Tompkins; Sherman Wilcox and BoMee Corwin; and Kathleen M. Wood. The five chapters contributed by these noteworthy researchers offer various views on multicultural and bilingual literacy instruction for deaf students. Subjects range from a study of literacy in Norway, where Norwegian Sign Language recently became the first language of instruction for deaf pupils, to the difficulties faced by deaf immigrant and refugee children who confront institutional and cultural clashes. Other topics include the experiences of deaf adults who became bilingual in ASL and English, and the interaction of the pathological versus the cultural view of deafness. The final study examines literacy among Deaf college undergraduates as a way of determining how the current social institution of literacy translates for Deaf adults and how literacy can be extended to deaf people beyond the age of 20.

Published by: Gallaudet University Press


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Introduction: Reframing Deaf People’s Literacy

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pp. 1-26

Deaf people’s literacy: This is no new subject. Typically approached as a problem or even a paradox in much of the long-stretching literature, literacy and deaf people have never danced smoothly together. Perhaps because literacy itself is usually defined as (and by) the dominant culture’s literacy, bound to standard spoken and written forms of a language and...

Part I: “Modernizing” Deaf Selves and Deaf Education: Histories and Habits

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The Modern Deaf Self: Indigenous Practices and Educational Imperatives

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pp. 29-46

Traditionally, the cultural practices of Deaf people and their children have had a covert, unappreciated, and unfulfilled impact on methods of educating Deaf children. Whatever influence on education practice Deaf people may have had was from their limited presence as teachers and counselors in schools. In more recent times, as ideas and ideologies have...

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What Does Culture Have to Do with the Education of Students Who Are Deaf or Hard of Hearing?

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pp. 47-58

In everyday discourse, we expect culture to point to a particular group and its features (e.g., Mexican culture, Russian culture, clothing, cuisine, and kinship patterns). However, the narrowness of everyday definitions of culture has become especially apparent in education (Sleeter 2001; Kalyanpur and Harry 1999) since some children’s “cultural” backgrounds are...

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Double Jeopardy: Women, Deafness, and Deaf Education

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pp. 59-72

Scholars of Deaf culture locate the birth of this linguistic minority group in schools; the schools are also where intense battles over identity and autonomy developed. Founding the American School for the Deaf (ASD) in Hartford, Connecticut, in 1817, initiated the campaign for permanent, state-sponsored residential schools for the deaf. ASD co-founder...

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Deaf, She Wrote: Mapping Deaf Women’s Autobiography

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pp. 73-87

I became interested in deaf women’s autobiography as a literacy site for several reasons. From one angle, my interest came from seeing a fair amount of it as the editor for the new Deaf Lives series from Gallaudet University Press, which was initiated in 2003 and which will focus on deaf autobiographies, memoirs, personal essays. Four out of the first six...

Part II: Multicultural and Bilingual Perspectives

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The Relationship between Language Experience and Language Development: A Report from Norway

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pp. 91-109

This study is part of a larger project titled “Bilingualism and Literacy in Deaf Children,” which was developed to gather data on the linguistic status of deaf children in Norway in 1997. Norway has a long history of “education for all” as a basic precept. The Ministry of Education, Research and Church Affairs established, by law, the right of all citizens to be educated...

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Deaf Immigrant and Refugee Children: Institutional and Cultural Clash

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pp. 110-138

This chapter focuses on immigrant and refugee children who are deaf. In this sense, deafness acts as a complicating, rather than an explanatory, factor in how these children are to be taught. It is essential that the professionals serving these children and their families be sensitive to and account for the cultural interpretations concerning...

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Cultural and Linguistic Voice in the Deaf Bilingual Experience

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pp. 139-156

Within the last decade, there has been an increasing dialogue and sharing between two previously disparate groups: those interested in bilingualism and those interested in raising and educating deaf individuals (Baker 2000). There is a growing conviction that “much of what has been written about bilinguals also applies to deaf...

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Struggling for a Voice: An Interactionist View of Language and Literacy in Deaf Education

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pp. 157-191

We can understand deafness in two ways: as a disabling condition, or as a unique way of perceiving and understanding the world. According to the first view, the essential feature of deafness is the physical condition of not being able to hear. Deaf students are disabled compared to “normal” students—they are hearing-impaired. Under this pathological...

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English Literacy in the Life Stories of Deaf College Undergraduates

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pp. 192-208

There are as many literacy identities as there are students studying the ways of being literate in the various languages and cultures they study. This paper is a discussion of how Deaf undergraduate English majors portray literate identities outside of the cultural identities promoted in school, or more exactly, in the Deaf Education English Literacy System...


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pp. 209-210


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pp. 211-219

E-ISBN-13: 9781563682339
E-ISBN-10: 1563682338
Print-ISBN-13: 9781563682711
Print-ISBN-10: 1563682710

Page Count: 228
Illustrations: 7 tables, 3 figures, 3 photos
Publication Year: 2004

OCLC Number: 794700893
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Literacy and Deaf People

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Education, Bilingual.
  • English language -- Study and teaching.
  • Deaf children -- Education.
  • Deafness -- Social aspects.
  • Literacy.
  • Deaf -- Education.
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