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Deaf Sharks, Hearing Jets, and a Classic American Musical
This telling book reveals the critical role played by a little-known group called the “Ducks,” a tight-knit band of six alumni determined to see a deaf president at Gallaudet. Deaf President Now! details how they urged the student leaders to ultimate success, including an analysis of the reasons for their achievement in light of the failure of many other student movements. This fascinating study also scrutinizes the lasting effects of this remarkable episode in “the civil rights movement of the deaf.” Deaf President Now! tells the full story of the insurrection at Gallaudet University, an exciting study of how deaf people won social change for themselves and all disabled people everywhere through a peaceful revolution.
Three Self Portraits
Three deaf women with widely varying stories share their experiences in this unique collection, revealing not only the vast differences in the circumstances of their lives, but also the striking similarities. In Bainy Cyrus’s All Eyes, she vividly describes her life as a young child who was taught using the oral method at the Clarke School for the Deaf in Northampton, MA. Her account of the methods used (for example, repeating the same word over and over again, as many as 35 times), animates the extraordinary amount of work performed by deaf children to learn to read and speak. Cyrus also relates the importance of her lifelong friendships with two girls she met at Clarke, and how the different paths that they took influenced her as an adult. Eileen Katz’s story, as told to Celeste Cheyney, offers a glimpse into a deaf girl’s life a generation before Cyrus. In Making Sense of It All: The Battle of Britain Through a Jewish Deaf Girl’s Eyes, Katz juxtaposes the gradual learning of the words who, what, where, and why with the confusing events of 1938 to 1941. As she and her fellow students grasped the meanings of these questions, they also realized the threat from the Nazi air attacks upon England. Katz also understood the compound jeopardy that she and her classmates faced by being both deaf and Jewish. In contrast to the predominantly oral orientation of Cyrus and Katz, Frances M. Parsons writes of a year-long journey overseas in 1976 to lecture about Total Communication. Parsons traveled to Iran, India, Ceylon, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Australia, and seven countries in Africa to teach administrators, teachers, and deaf students to communicate using sign, speechreading, writing, and any other means available. Her harrowing and fascinating anecdotes detail visits to ministries of education, schools, hospitals, clinics, palaces, hovels for the poorest of the poor, and all kinds of residential homes and apartments. Taken together, her travels testify to the aptness of her title I Dared! The combined effect of these three Deaf women’s stories, despite the variation in their experiences, reveals the common thread that weaves through the lives of all deaf individuals.
In this volume, editor Cynthia B. Roy presents a stellar cast of cognitive linguists, sociolinguists, and discourse analysts to discover and demonstrate how sign language users make sense of what is going on within their social and cultural contexts in face-to-face interactions. In the first chapter, Paul Dudis presents an innovative perspective on depiction in discourse. Mary Thumann follows with her observations on constructed dialogue and constructed action. Jack Hoza delineates the discourse and politeness functions of HEY and WELL in ASL as examples of discourse markers in the third chapter. Laurie Swabey investigates reference in ASL discourse in the fourth chapter. In Chapter 5, Christopher Stone offers insights on register related to genre in British Sign Language discourse, and Daniel Roush addresses in Chapter 6 the “conduit” metaphor in English and ASL. Jeffrey Davis completes this collection by mapping out the nature of discourse in Plains Indian Sign Language, a previously unstudied language. The major thread that ties together the work of these varying linguists is their common focus on the forms and functions of sign languages used by people in actual situations. They each provide new keys to answering how thoughts expressed in one setting with one term or one utterance may mean something totally different when expressed in a different setting with different participants and different purposes.
Edmund Booth was born in 1810 and died in 1905, and during the 94 years of his life, he epitomized virtually everything that characterized an American legend of that century. In his prime, Booth stood 6 feet, 3 inches tall, weighed in at 210 pounds, and wore a long, full beard. He taught school in Hartford, CT, then followed his wife-to-be Mary Ann Walworth west to Anamosa, Iowa, where in 1840, he built the area’s first frame house. He pulled up stakes nine years later to travel the Overland Trail on his way to join the California Gold Rush. After he returned to Iowa in 1854, he became the editor of the Anamosa Eureka, the local newspaper. Edmund Booth fit perfectly the mold of the ingenious pioneer of 19th-century America, except for one unusual difference — he was deaf. Edmund Booth: Deaf Pioneer follows the amazing career of this American original and his equally amazing wife in fascinating detail. Author Harry G. Lang vividly portrays Booth and his wife by drawing from a remarkable array of original material. A prolific writer, Booth corresponded with his fiancé from the American School for the Deaf in Hartford, and he kept a journal during his days on the California trail, parts of which have been reproduced here. He also wrote an autobiographical essay when he was 75, and his many newspaper articles through the years bore first-hand witness to the history of his times, from the Civil War to the advent of the 20th century. Edmund Booth depicts a larger-than-life man in larger-than-life times, but perhaps its greatest contribution derives from its narrative about pioneer days as seen through Deaf eyes. Booth became a respected senior statesman of the American Deaf community, and blended with his stories of the era’s events are anecdotes and issues vital to Deaf people and their families. His story proves again that extraordinary people vary in many ways, but they often possess a common motive in acting to enhance their own communities.
The 19th International Congress on Education of the Deaf (ICED) in 2000, held in Sydney, Australia, brought together 1,067 teachers, administrators and researchers from 46 countries to address an extremely wide selection of topics. Experts from around the world discussed inclusion of deaf students in regular educational environments, literacy, audiology, auditory development and listening programs, hearing aids, programming for children with cochlear implants, signed communication in education, bilingual education, early intervention (including the rapidly emerging area of newborn hearing screening), education in developing countries, deaf students with multiple disabilities, and deaf students in postsecondary school education. The 19 chapters of Educating Deaf Students: Global Perspectives present a select cross-section of the issues addressed at the 19th ICED. Divided into four distinct parts — Contemporary Issues for all Learners, The Early Years, The School Years, and Contemporary Issues in Postsecondary Education — the themes considered here span the entire student age range. Authored by 27 different researchers and practitioners from six different countries, this book can be seen as a valuable description of the zeitgeist in the field of education of the deaf at the turn of the 21st century and the millennium.
"With Sign Language You Can Learn So Much"
The sudden discovery of Nicaraguan Sign Language (NSL) enthralled scholars worldwide who hoped to witness the evolution of a new language. But controversy erupted regarding the validity of NSL as a genuinely spontaneous language created by young children. Laura Polich’s fascinating book recounts her nine-year study of the Deaf community in Nicaragua and her findings about its formation and that of NSL in its wake. Polich crafted The Emergence of the Deaf Community in Nicaragua from her copious research in Nicaragua’s National Archives, field observations of deaf pupils in 20 special education schools, polls of the teachers for deaf children about their education and knowledge of deafness, a survey of 225 deaf individuals about their backgrounds and living conditions, and interviews with the oldest members of the National Nicaraguan Association of the Deaf. Polich found that the use of a “standardized” sign language in Nicaragua did not emerge until there was a community of users meeting on a regular basis, especially beyond childhood. The adoption of NSL did not happen suddenly, but took many years and was fed by multiple influences. She also discovered the process that deaf adolescents used to attain their social agency, which gained them recognition by the larger Nicaraguan hearing society. Her book illustrates tremendous changes during the past 60 years, and the truth in one Deaf Nicaraguan’s declaration, “With sign language you can learn so much.”
Personal Experience Narratives in American Sign Language
Personal narratives are one way people code their experiences and convey them to others. Given that speakers can simultaneously express information and define a social situation, analyzing how and why people structure the telling of personal narratives can provide insight into the social dimensions of language use. In Extraordinary from the Ordinary: Personal Experience Narratives in American Sign Language, Kristin Jean Mulrooney shows that accounts by Deaf persons expressed in ASL possess the same characteristics and perform the same function as oral personal narratives. Mulrooney analyzes 12 personal narratives by ASL signers to determine how they “tell” their stories. She examines the ASL form of textual narration to see how signers use lexical signs to grammatically encode information, and how they also convey perceived narration. In perceived narration, the presenter depicts a past occurrence in the immediate environment that allows the audience to partially witness and interpret the event. Mulrooney determined that ASL narratives reveal a patterned structure consisting of an introduction, a main events section for identifying and describing past occurrences, and a conclusion. They also can include background information, an explication section in which the presenter expands or clarifies an event, and a section that allows the presenter to explain his or her feelings about what happened. Liberally illustrated with photographs from videotaped narratives, Extraordinary from the Ordinary offers an engrossing, expansive view of personal narratives embodying the unique linguistic elements of ASL.
Memories of World War II and Afterward
“She’s got no more business there than a pig has with a Bible.” That’s what her father said when Mary Herring announced that she would be moving to Washington, DC, in late 1942. Recently graduated from the North Carolina School for Black Deaf and Blind Students, Mary had been invited to the nation’s capital by a cousin to see a specialist about her hearing loss. Though nothing could be done about her deafness, Mary quickly proved her father wrong by passing the civil service examination with high marks. Far from Home: Memories of World War II and Afterward, the second installment of her autobiography, describes her life from her move to Washington to the present. Mary soon became a valued employee for the Navy, maintaining rosters for the many servicemen in war theaters worldwide. Her remarkable gift for detail depicts Washington in meticulous layers, a sleepy Southern town force-grown into a dynamic geopolitical hub. Life as a young woman amid the capital’s Black middle class could be warm and fun, filled with visits from family and friends, and trips home to Iron Mine for tearful, joyous reunions. But the reality of the times was never far off. On many an idyllic afternoon, she and her friends found somber peace in Arlington Cemetery, next to the grave of the sole Unknown Soldier at that time. During an evening spent at the U.S.O., one hearing woman asked how people like her could dance, and Mary answered, “With our feet.” She became a pen pal to several young servicemen, but did not want to know why some of them suddenly stopped writing.
The Taiwanese Example
In the growing body of research on sign language linguistics, one area of inquiry considers an important component of all sign languages — handshapes — and whether the use of specific kinds increase in direct relation to the ease of their formation. Author Jean Ann provides significant clarification in her book Frequency of Occurrence and Ease of Articulation of Sign Language Handshapes: The Taiwanese Example. Ann employs a straightforward methodology in her examination of the use of Taiwan Sign Language (TSL) handshapes in five succinct chapters. In the first chapter, she discusses the two approaches linguists have taken toward understanding languages, and how these theories have influenced sign language researchers’ consideration of the ease of articulation and frequency of handshapes. In her second chapter, Ann delineates the physiology of hands and explains why certain digits move with greater dexterity than others. Ann applies this physiological information in the third chapter to construct a model for determining the ease of articulation of any logically possible handshape. She divides the handshapes into three categories, ranging from impossible to easy. In the fourth chapter, she applies her model to examine the patterns of TSL, first by describing the 56 handshapes identified in TSL, then determining how often each is used. She then compares the usage data to the handshapes’ ease of formation. The final chapter summarizes her findings and suggests implications of this work that are bound to generate further speculation and study on sign language handshapes in the future.
Growing Up Deaf in the Old South
The antebellum South’s economic dependence on slavery engendered a rigid social order in which a small number of privileged white men dominated African Americans, poor whites, women, and many people with disabilities. From Pity to Pride examines the experiences of a group of wealthy young men raised in the old South who also would have ruled over this closely regimented world had they not been deaf. Instead, the promise of status was gone, replaced by pity, as described by one deaf scion, “I sometimes fancy some people to treat me as they would a child to whom they were kind.” In this unique and fascinating history, Hannah Joyner depicts in striking detail the circumstances of these so-called victims of a terrible “misfortune.” Joyner makes clear that Deaf people in the North also endured prejudice. She also explains how the cultural rhetoric of paternalism and dependency in the South codified a stringent system of oppression and hierarchy that left little room for self-determination for Deaf southerners. From Pity to Pride reveals how some of these elite Deaf people rejected their family’s and society’s belief that being deaf was a permanent liability. Rather, they viewed themselves as competent and complete. As they came to adulthood, they joined together with other Deaf Americans, both southern and northern, to form communities of understanding, self-worth, and independence.