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I Fill This Small Space

The Writings of a Deaf Activist

Lawrence Newman, Edited by David Kars

Publication Year: 2009

Lawrence Newman became deaf at the age of five in 1930, and saw his father fight back tears knowing that his son would never hear again. The next time he saw his father cry was in 1978, when Newman received an honorary doctorate from Gallaudet University, his alma mater. Newman was recognized for his achievements as a life-long advocate for deaf education, including receiving California’s Teacher of the Year award in 1968. Perhaps his greatest influence, however, stemmed from his many articles and columns that appeared in various publications, the best of which are featured in I Fill This Small Space: The Writings of a Deaf Activist. Editor David Kurs has organized Newman’s writings around his passions — deaf education, communication and language, miscellaneous columns and poems on Deaf life, and humorous insights on his activism. His articles excel both as seamless arguments supporting his positions and as windows on the historical conflicts that he fought: against the Least Restrictive Environment in favor of residential deaf schools; for sign language, Total Communication, and bilingual education; and as a deaf teacher addressing parents of deaf children. A gifted writer in all genres, Newman amuses with ease (“On Mini and Midi-Skirts”), and moves readers with his heartfelt verse (“Girl with a Whirligig”). Newman ranges wide in his ability, but he always maintains his focus on equal tights for deaf people, as he demonstrates in his title poem “I Fill This Small Space:” I fill this small space, this time Who is to say yours is better Than mine or mine yours

Published by: Gallaudet University Press

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. iii-iv


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pp. vii-x


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pp. xi

The Ballet of the Hands

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pp. 1-2

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The Odyssey of a Deaf Activist: An Introduction by Lawrence Newman

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pp. 3-5

It was the late 1960s. The “Little Paper Family”—newsletters sent out by state schools for the deaf—had initiated a prolific exchange in print of ideas, thoughts, and opinions. Earlier, The Cavalier and The Spectrum had been among the first nationwide publications of, by, and for the deaf; then came The Silent Worker, which would become The Deaf American. ...

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From the Small Space: A Biography of Lawrence Newman

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pp. 7-20

In 1968, the John Tracy Clinic, a prominent oral education academy in Los Angeles, published a widely disseminated pamphlet that addressed parents of deaf children with the title: “Talk, Talk, Talk, Talk.” The materials encouraged parents to continue talking because one day their child would eventually catch on. ...

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Larry Newman’s legacy is as an outspoken educator for the deaf. His writings and talks engage us directly in a time when “rocking the boat” was seen as the wrong approach towards leadership of the deaf. He argues for best practices in deaf education and offers a unified-field perspective of deaf education by bringing together elements...

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Perspectives—The Most Restrictive Environment

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pp. 23-25

The Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) is often mentioned in relation to PL 94–142 in terms of placement of handicapped students with those who are non-handicapped and in a school near the student’s place of residence.2 This resulted from the reasoning that handicapped children are, first of all, human beings with the same inalienable rights...

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Considerations to Consider about the Least Restrictive Environment

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pp. 26-28

The Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) is mentioned only once in PL 94–142 yet it is being widely interpreted as the thing to do in terms of school placement, as an end in itself, and as practically a state of the art achievement. The mandates of PL 94–142 were drafted to apply to all handicapped children and not to a specific handicap with unique needs. ...

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Current and Future Trends in the Education of the Hearing Impaired4

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pp. 29-38

Newman was a leading force behind a protest outside a national leadership conference where federal education officials addressed the issue of LRE by defending and promoting the concept of placing handicapped children in local public school classrooms. He was giving a speech inside the building while over 150 demonstrators were rallying outside.5 ...

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Is There a Light at the End of the Tunnel?

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pp. 39-41

Today, in spite of the fact that the education of the deaf has been marred by controversy on methods and techniques of communication, the numbers of deaf people educated, the quality of their education, the diversity of approaches, the sheer weight of research studies are a marvel to behold. ...

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On Teaching Standards and Certification

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pp. 43

These columns identify what Newman saw as the most pressing issue at this time in Deaf Education: the use of sign language (referred to here as manual communication). Newman also protested that educators with scant knowledge of deafness ran the majority of training programs. This condition has changed today, for the better.

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Teacher Training19

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pp. 44-49

Today’s teacher preparation programs face a drastically different world: they are more concerned with literacy and have to train teachers how to manage classroom behavior and how to teach in heterogeneous groups, for instance. As Marc Marschark and Patricia Elizabeth Spencer point out in the epilogue of their 2003 Oxford Handbook of Deaf Studies, Language, and Education...

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On Bilingual Education

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pp. 51

It seems hard to believe that bilingual education is a popular practice in deaf education today, given the firestorm that surrounded the concept when educators introduced it in the late 1980s and early 1990s. It is even harder to believe that the idea was being floated around as early as 1973, when Newman noted the similarities that deaf students have to Mexican-American students in bilingual programs.

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Bilingual Education

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pp. 52-55

The column is relevant because it calls for more research about bilingual education in deaf classrooms during a time when none existed. Later, Newman would come full circle in a column for the NAD Monograph in 1992, in which he elegantly espouses the bilingual method. ...

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The Bilingual and Bicultural Approach

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pp. 56-60

In this, the early 90’s, we appear to be at a landmark juncture in the history of the education of deaf people. I am not referring to the lingering effects of the attempts at wholesale mainstreaming under the narrow interpretation of LRE which has caused dwindling enrollments at some schools...

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On the Residential School

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pp. 61

While yet more research is needed fifteen years later, the bilingual approach has become more accepted in the education community today.

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The Role of the Residential School in the Educational Well-Being of Deaf Children

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pp. 62-66

This is a bittersweet elegy given at the Wyoming School for the Deaf, especially considering the fact that the school closed in June 2001. Subsequently, in 2003, a study revealed that educational placement settings “ . . . account for less than 5% of the difference in achievement, whereas student characteristics account for 25% of the difference, and most of the variance is unaccounted for.”31 ...

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On the Future of Deaf Education

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pp. 67

Newman’s optimism for the future of deaf education is apparent throughout his writings and speeches. He imagines the future idyllically and muses on possible strategies. Throughout Newman’s work, a theme remains: his passion for the constant betterment of deaf education. ...

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Deaf Leadership in Education—Past, Present, and Future

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pp. 68-71

Newman made the following presentation at the Leadership Training Program (LTP) at the National Center on Deafness at the California State University, Northridge (CSUN). The LTP proved to be a training ground for countless administrators. Its closure in the early 1980s has led to a change in the landscape of deaf leadership in deaf education. ...

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Inviting Educational Success:A Self-Concept Approach to Teaching and Learning

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pp. 72-74

Ladies and Gentlemen, we have come a long way since the time when we were hidden in shame from the public eye. No less a notable than Aristotle himself made this unbelievably negative statement: “Those who are born deaf all become senseless and incapable of reason.”44 ...

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This part offers insights into signed communication and the injustices brought upon the deaf. Newman’s work harkens back to the day when trail-blazing educators were also leaders of the deaf community, not only in education but also in varied topics such as sign language and the need for flexibility in communication. ...

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See! See! See! See!

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pp. 76-78

In 1968, the John Tracy Clinic, a prominent oral education academy in Los Angeles, published a widely disseminated pamphlet that addressed parents of deaf children with the title: “Talk, Talk, Talk, Talk.” The materials encouraged parents to continue talking because one day their child would eventually catch on. ...

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Reaction to See! See! See! See! Article

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pp. 79-85

...Thanks for your note last week along with a further contribution titled “Teacher Training” for The California Forum. There are two reasons, one minor and one major, why I do not think we shall be able to use your contributions after “See! See! See! See!” This decision has nothing to do with you personally, nor with your English! ...

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For Thine Is the Power and the Glory . . .

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pp. 86-88

Communication can take various forms each no less meaningful than the other: a pat on the head that reassures, the signal for okay or the language of the eyes. Need two lovers say more? The hand manipulations of the stock market auctioneer under all the pressure and noise, the attendant on the ground signaling with his hands...

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Of Language, Speech, Speech Reading, Manual Communication

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pp. 89-92

Manual communication, that is, fingerspelling and signs, has never in educational circles been given the place of respect and importance that it deserves. The stand taken in favor of it has often been apologetic and defensive. The vilification heaped against it, the fact that it has been made a scapegoat for many of our educational ills...

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On the John Tracy Clinic

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pp. 93-100

There is no preschool program in this country that is as world famous as the John Tracy Clinic. The correspondence of this clinic sometimes reaches a staggering 1,700 letters per month and there is no question but that some service has been contributed to parents of deaf children. ...

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Total Communication

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pp. 101-105

Many persons have credited Roy K. Holcomb with being the father of total communication. Mr. Holcomb, who is coordinator of the Madison Day School for the Deaf located in Santa Ana, California,5 once mentioned that the idea for the term “total communication” came to him when he noticed the term “total discounts”...

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Talk at Registry of Interpreters Workshop

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pp. 106-109

In 1972, sign language interpreting was a nascent field. The Registry of Interpreters of the Deaf had just incorporated. Newman’s prescient talk here shows the gratitude that the deaf person has for the interpreters, and foreshadows how reliant the community has become on interpreters today—from community interpreting to video relay services. ...

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The Medium Is the Message

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pp. 110-113

There are many interpretations of what Marshall McLuhan meant when he coined the phrase “The medium is the message.” For my purposes this afternoon, I am going to focus on and question the medium deaf speakers use to get their messages across to an audience. ...

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Float Like a Butterfly, Sting Like a Bee

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pp. 114-119

The following essay holds value for future teachers of deaf students because it condenses Newman’s feelings and thoughts about the appropriate modalities of communication in the classroom. ...

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Newman says of Betty, his wife: “It was a marriage made in heaven. She is the sweetest, most patient woman I have ever known. She has put up with me and brought up my five children, all while teaching full time. She has had to deal with high blood pressure. She was always extremely busy. She kept the children neat and well-fed. ...

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Cherry Blossoms Come to Bloom

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pp. 122-129

Here, Newman uses his extensive experiences as a teacher and a father of a deaf daughter to reflect on the challenges facing parents of deaf children. He uses humor in his writings and talks to parents to further his cause, and always pushes the case for what has now become known as early intervention. ...

Can You Hear It, My Daughter?

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pp. 130

Girl with a Whirligig

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pp. 131

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The Best Gift—The Gift of Yourself

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pp. 132-134

...The vast fl ow of language being assimilated by those hearing children stands in stark contrast to the pitiful amount to which deaf children are being exposed. In another incident, a three-year-old hearing boy shouted: “Give me a shove, grandma.” I decided to ask my class of bright, alert 17- to 19-year-old deaf students what “give me a shove” meant. Not one of them knew. ...

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A Talk Before Parents

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pp. 135-139

On seven different occasions this year I have been invited to talk to various groups, mostly to parents of deaf children. The following talk was delivered at a PTCA panel meeting at the California School for the Deaf, Riverside...

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Panel Talk—Viewpoints of a Deaf Teacher of the Deaf,Sacramento—May 2, 1970

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pp. 140-145

Upon being a parent, Newman became involved with local and national parent organizations, eventually becoming the president of the International Association of Parents of the Deaf (IAPD), now the American Society for Deaf Children (ASDC). The following talks are proof that while Newman was a seasoned educator of the deaf, he was also venturing into the unknown...

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IPO Resolution

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pp. 146-150

The board of the International Parents Organization (IPO), a section of the Alexander Graham Bell Association (AGB), sent out a memo to all IPO Parents Groups. The memo included a resolution for a public relations program to promote an oral education for the deaf that was passed by the IPO board...

I Was in Your House—To MDG

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pp. 151

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Dinner Talk at San Diego, California

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pp. 152-157

I went to a baseball game. There were 41,198 persons in attendance. So what happens? I am seated near a man who loves to talk. Out of 41,196 persons who can hear this man decided to select what was probably the only deaf person in the whole ball park to talk to. ...

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Talks Before Parent Groups

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pp. 158-162

I cannot help but be amazed and pleased that more and more of us deaf adults are asked to speak before parent groups. Only a few years ago we had difficulty being given a chance to be “heard” while those who were “paper smart” were usually asked to speak. ...

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On Reading Once Again

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pp. 163-166

It is a well known and documented fact that the reading status of deaf students is mediocre, ranging from a third to a fifth grade level by the time most of them are nearly adults. For obvious reasons, the ability to read should be the single most important area of concern in the education of the deaf yet not only do incorrect approaches seem to be taken but there appears...

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A Total Communication Family

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pp. 167-171

Newman’s definition of Total Communication here is different than most people perceive. Instead of using speech and sign at the time, he advocates for using the communication modality that works best with the child. Here, he illustrates a family that cares and loves their deaf child and uses it as a standard. ...

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President’s Remarks

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pp. 172-175

...Exciting developments are occurring in the field of audiology. Our technical society is making possible advances in amplification equipment. Behind the ear hearing aids are now as powerful as body aids once were and it is possible to custom fit hearing aids for each child. ...

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President’s Corner: A Deaf Child in a Hearing Family

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pp. 176-178

No question about it, a deaf child faces formidable obstacles when every member of his family is hearing. In terms of dealing with the handicap of deafness, each member is more likely than not to be totally unprepared. Practically every action and reaction, the thinking processes, the emotional expressions have evolved...

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Newman’s poems are beautiful yet efficient, and they humanize the deaf experience by offering unique perspectives into his world. In this part, as well, we see his fresh perceptions of the Deaf President Now movement and the skirmishes he fought as president of the National Association of the Deaf. ...

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Recreation and Entertainment: Yesterday—Today—Tomorrow

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pp. 181-185

Some characteristics of people are so universally akin in that most of them seek recreation and entertainment after a steady diet of work. Due to communication factors the after-work outlets for the deaf are a little narrower yet more broad than a large segment of the hearing public would suspect. ...

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Our Public Image

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pp. 186-189

I was introduced to a deaf man who visited my classroom more than two years ago. This man was the type who did not know any manual communication, who did not understand why the deaf had reading and language problems and who, it seemed, had only hearing people for friends. ...

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Who Represents Whom

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pp. 190-194

From time to time adult deaf leaders of state and national organizations are criticized for the type of thoughts and feelings they express. For example, the November–December 1971 issue of the Jersey School News carried a talk “Regarding Communication Methods in Educating the Deaf ”...

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The President’s Corner

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pp. 195-196

It is ironic, if not abhorrent, that we who have fought against discrimination should ourselves discriminate. Witness the way some of us reject non-ASL users and/or those who prefer the aural-oral methods of communication. Instead of being sensitive and considerate, have we, who have experienced rejection by impatient hearing people...

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President’s Corner

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pp. 197-199

If you have felt a high degree of tension at a particular time—make it a time in a pressure cooker—then you have some idea of my position and those of the staff at NAD’s Home Office as the countdown to the nationwide March 1st Demonstration inexorably moved nearer. ...

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The President’s Corner

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pp. 200-202

Upon retirement where does a deaf person decide to live? There are retirement centers such as Leisure World, Sun City, Lawrence Welk resorts and hundreds of others of the same kind scattered throughout our country. There are a host of activities—lectures, special trips, operetta or theatre excursions, card games, golf or tennis tournaments...


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pp. 203

Lady with Mandolin

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pp. 204

To Bernard Bragg

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pp. 205-206

The Arid Desert

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pp. 207

My Four Senses

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pp. 208-210

I Searched

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pp. 211

Times Past

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pp. 213

The Big “If”

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pp. 213

I Fill This Small Space

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pp. 214

Black and White

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pp. 215

Hard of Hearing

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pp. 216

The Cave Man

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pp. 216

To Err Is Human

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pp. 218


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pp. 219

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In these humorous pieces, a number of common themes can be witnessed: an optimistic outlook on the future of the deaf community, the invisibility of deafness, the humor inherent in being deaf, and an admission that Newman wouldn’t mind if he could hear ...

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Reality Is Sometimes Funnier than Fiction

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pp. 222-225

A student was slouching in his chair. I decided to imitate him and demonstrated it—but fell off the chair . . . I gave test results and then a box of Kleenex to a girl who would always cry at her bad grades . . . During the Pledge of Allegiance, one of my students would mouth ‘our father who art in heaven...

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A Brave New World

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pp. 226-228

It is the 21st century. What a strange world and what strange goings on! It is an age of 99.9% successful transplants of the heart, kidney, brain—almost every part of the human body except the hearing apparatus. It is the scarcity of donors, not the lack of medical skill, that is to blame. ...

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On Mini- and Midi-skirts

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pp. 229-230

I think it was Thoreau who said long ago that if one monkey in Paris decides upon something everybody else blindly plays follow the leader. According to newspaper accounts there is now a “bouquet of beautiful women making a stand against lengthening hems and the demise of the miniskirt.” ...

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My Hernia Operation

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pp. 231-233

The last time I had major surgery was more than 40 years ago. Now, in his office, the doctor told me to cough as he examined me. I obeyed instantly and coughed right into his face. This automatic response is a bad habit of mine. Psychiatrists might be able to trace this type of behavior to the tell-and-do activities of my childhood. ...

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An Encounter Group

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pp. 234-236

You never would have known it by looking at him. At Joe I mean. He stood there with his dark good looks and husky frame. His eyes are what gave him away. Brooding eyes. When not brooding they would dart in all directions like that bird—Iforgotitsname—which I saw at the zoo. ...

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Gestalt Learning

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pp. 237-240

Every once in a while I receive a list of course offerings from the University of California at Riverside. Usually, after a quick glance, I toss it into the wastebasket. This time, I studied the list more carefully because nine of us deaf teachers were trying to decide which course offerings to select. ...

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Oh, What a Beautiful Morning

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pp. 241-244

...I have a dental appointment so I get into my car and no sooner do I park it when I look up into the eyes of a man in a pickup van. I get out of my car but notice the eyes of the man taking on a quizzical turn. I walk a few steps away wondering if the man is talking to me. ...

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President’s Corner

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pp. 245-247

The other day my secretary said to me “It is amazing how some deaf people manage to talk so well. All their lives they have never heard a single word.” She went on to say “It is not just a question of voice quality but of pronunciation, of placement of the accent.” ...

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The Violins

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pp. 248-251

There was this opulent exterior of a Mexican restaurant. Inside it was as classy looking as it appeared outside. As soon as we looked at the menu, we found the prices surprisingly to be reasonable. There were eight of us stone deaf adults seated around a heavy dark oak rectangular table. Of course, a circular table would have been preferred. ...

E-ISBN-13: 9781563684579
E-ISBN-10: 1563684578
Print-ISBN-13: 9781563684081
Print-ISBN-10: 156368408X

Page Count: 262
Illustrations: 9 photographs
Publication Year: 2009