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Letters to Helen Keller
As a young blind girl, Georgina Kleege repeatedly heard the refrain, “Why can’t you be more like Helen Keller?” Kleege’s resentment culminates in her book Blind Rage: Letters to Helen Keller, an ingenious examination of the life of this renowned international figure using 21st-century sensibilities. Kleege’s absorption with Keller originated as an angry response to the ideal of a secular saint, which no real blind or deaf person could ever emulate. However, her investigation into the genuine person revealed that a much more complex set of characters and circumstances shaped Keller’s life. Blind Rage employs an adroit form of creative nonfiction to review the critical junctures in Keller’s life. The simple facts about Helen Keller are well-known: how Anne Sullivan taught her deaf-blind pupil to communicate and learn; her impressive career as a Radcliffe graduate and author; her countless public appearances in various venues, from cinema to vaudeville, to campaigns for the American Foundation for the Blind. But Kleege delves below the surface to question the perfection of this image. Through the device of her letters, she challenges Keller to reveal her actual emotions, the real nature of her long relationship with Sullivan, with Sullivan’s husband, and her brief engagement to Peter Fagan. Kleege’s imaginative dramatization, distinguished by her depiction of Keller’s command of abstract sensations, gradually shifts in perspective from anger to admiration. Blind Rage criticizes the Helen Keller myth for prolonging an unrealistic model for blind people, yet it appreciates the individual who found a practical way to live despite the restrictions of her myth.
Deaf Identity and Internal Revolution
Christopher Jon Heuer lost his hearing early, but not before “being able to hear a lot as a kid.” He also received a good education, both in a speech-oriented setting and a signing environment. These varied experiences provided him with the perfect background to write about biases he faced, not only those of a mostly oblivious hearing society, but also those of ideologically restrictive members of the Deaf community. BUG: Deaf Identity and Internal Revolution combines new work of Heuer’s with his best columns from The Tactile Mind Weekly and the National Association of the Deaf’s Mind Over Matter. He addresses all topics – exit interviews, baldness, faith healing, marriage, cats, Christmas trips, backyard campfires in boxer shorts – with a withering wit that spares no aspect of life and deafness. Being “bugged” for Heuer began early: “When I was growing up, my mother’s response to every problem I had was: ‘Well, he just needs to adjust to his deafness.’ Bloody nose? ‘Chris, you need to adjust to your deafness.’ Homework not done? ‘I know it’s hard adjusting to your deafness, honey, but ....’ Acne scarring? ‘Lots of teenagers get zits, Chris. I know it’s hard for you, dealing with this while trying to adjust to your ....’” He rebelled then, and continues through his even-handed irreverence in BUG, a bomb that should go off in everyone’s consciousness about being deaf and Deaf.
Kyler Daniels was born in 1988 with a profound bilateral hearing loss. Her deafness went undetected for a year since newborn screening for hearing loss was not yet available. Kyler benefited, however, from the great support of her family and a string of excellent professionals in deaf education, including Ann Darby Getty, the author of this shared, experiental story. As soon as they realized that their daughter was deaf, Kyler’s parents, who were hearing, immediately began to learn sign language. They also engaged Darby, a parent/infant educator employed by the state school for the deaf, to work with Kyler. From the age of 13 months until Kyler’s college graduation 22 years later, Darby was involved in her education and development. Despite living in a rural area, Kyler enjoyed an array of services, including parent/infant education, sign language interaction/modeling, speech and language therapy, and also a cochlear implant. At the same time that she developed her speech skills, sign language continued to be a critically important facet of her communication. In grade school, she learned with other deaf students, while in high school, she worked successfully in mainstream classrooms with interpreters and notetakers. As a college graduate, gifted artist, and veterinarian’s assistant today, Kyler exemplifies how a balanced approach to deaf education, using all resources at hand, can achieve remarkable results. Her story serves as a model for parents of other deaf children and professionals working with deaf children.
Perspectives from Sub-Saharan Signed Language Communities
Sub-Saharan Africa is one of the most linguistically, culturally, and geographically diverse regions of the world, home to more than 2,000 languages. As in the rest of the world, Deaf people live throughout the widely varying sub-Saharan communities, equally rich in their signed languages. An emergent body of scholarly research on sub-Saharan signed languages (SSSL) and related Deaf community organizing has created the opportunity to gather together the informed perspectives presented in this revolutionary collection. Drawing examples from all regions of sub-Saharan Africa—Western, Eastern, Central, and Southern—16 contributors join the volume editors in illuminating the circumstances pertaining to cross-border, cross-regional, and global engagements in sub-Saharan Deaf communities. This collection centers upon two interrelated purposes: to examine sub-Saharan African deaf people’s perspectives on citizenship, politics, and difference in relation to SSSL practices, and to analyze SSSL practices in relation to sociopolitical histories and social change interests (including addressing aspects of culture, gender, language usage, race, ethnicity, sexuality, and ability). The editors have organized these themes under three main sections, Sub-Saharan Signed Languages and Deaf Communities, The Politics of Mobilizing Difference, and Citizenship. Such wide-ranging subjects as the ethics of studying Kenyan signed language, sign language and Deaf communities in Eritrea, and overcoming cultural and linguistic barriers to HIV/AIDS education drive home the importance of the unique and varied research in this collection.
The cochlear implant debate has changed, as evidenced in this cogent collection that presents 13 chapters by 20 experts, including several who communicate through sign language but also utilize cochlear implants. The impetus for this change stems from recognition that both visual and aural input can enhance the education of deaf children. Divided into four sections, Cochlear Implants: Evolving Perspectives first focuses on the impact of implants in the Deaf community. Chapters in this section examine the issues driving the cochlear implant debate, the ethics of genetic engineering, experiences of implanted adult deaf signers, reflections of deaf mothers who have had their children implanted, and the effects of implants on deaf identity. The second section delves into the mechanics of bimodal processing, including listening strategies that can benefit signing children with cochlear implants. The third section surveys combined aural/visual educational approaches, such as teaching implanted children in an ASL/English bilingual classroom, and applying auditory rehabilitation to a signed communication context. The final section challenges readers to reframe the debate first by exploring sensory politics, then by envisioning an emerging world that requires the Deaf community to connect with it to secure its future. With this information, readers will reach their own conclusions about cochlear implants and auditory and visual approaches to the mastery of both spoken and signed languages.
Ethics and Choices
Cochlear Implants in Children: Ethics and Choices addresses every facet of the ongoing controversy about implanting cochlear hearing devices in children as young as 12 months old and in some cases, younger. Authors John B. Christiansen and Irene W. Leigh and contributors Jay Lucker and Patricia Elizabeth Spencer analyzed the sensitive issues connected with the procedure by reviewing 439 responses to a survey of parents with children who have cochlear implants. They followed up with interviews of the parents of children who have had a year's experience using their implants, and also the children themselves. Their findings shape the core of this useful and telling study. Cochlear Implants begins with a history of their development and an explanation of how implants convert sound into electric impulses that stimulate the brain. The second section focuses on pediatric implants, starting with the ways parents coped with the discovery that their child was deaf. Parents share how they learned about cochlear implants and how they chose an implant center. They also detail their children's experiences with the implants after surgery, and their progress with language acquisition and in school. The final part treats the controversy associated with cochlear implants, particularly the reaction of the Deaf community and the ethics of implanting young children without their consent. Cochlear Implants concludes with sage observations and recommendations for parents and professionals that complete it as the essential book on the pros and cons of this burgeoning technology.
Directions for Research and Instruction
This groundbreaking book integrates the work of 54 contributors to the 1984 symposium on cognition, education, and deafness. It focuses on cognition and deaf students’ growth and development, problem-solving strategies, thinking processes, language development, reading methodology, measurement of potential, and intervention programs. The synthesis of these discoveries establishes directions for new research and outlines implications for all professionals working with hearing-impaired learners.
One Woman's Cochlear Implant Journey
Deafened at the age of six, Claire Blatchford was educated orally with speech lessons, speechreading, and hearing aids. Though successful both professionally and domestically, at the age of 67 Blatchford decided to undergo a cochlear implantation. In this memoir, she describes in prose and verse living with a cochlear implant for the past three years. At first, Blatchford feared losing the last of her hearing through the surgical process. Her audiologist explained that her hearing was worsening and that soon she would move from profound deafness into a state called “cosmic deafness.” Blatchford decided upon the surgery in hope of meeting her hearing family on their turf, and of again hearing the wind, rain, rivers, and crickets. After being implanted, however, she realized that amplification and comprehension were two different things: at first all she heard was a soup of sound, a condition known as being brain deaf. Blatchford soon learned, however, that regaining her hearing was a journey of discovery. Gradually, the sound soup gave way to the ability to hear some sentences without speechreading. The sound of her own voice surprised her, and she could hear her grandchildren speak. The thrill of new things heard on one car trip to a friend’s house moved her to “try my first yodel as I pass by your house.” When asked by others if they should receive an implant, she cautions that it is an individual decision that each deaf person must make. For her, it was the right decision.
This unequaled collection of international programs will enable educators worldwide to investigate special education practice within its social context to enhance their own initiatives with new ideas. Comparative Studies divides into five sections, each with an introduction to the chapters within. This thorough text begins with limited special education in such venues as South Africa and Senegal. Section Two addresses emerging special education in Nigeria, Brazil, and several other locales. Segregated special education in Japan, Russia, and other countries makes up Section Three, and Section Four explores countries that are approaching integration, such as Poland and Australia. Integrated special education is described in Scandinavia, New Zealand and other nations in the final section. More than 50 noted scholars have contributed to this important work, offering an indispensable, detailed frame of reference for assessing education programs worldwide for all special populations -- blind, deaf, physically and mentally disabled, and all others.
In past studies of the effect of environment and social settings upon the cognitive development of deaf children, results frequently were confounded by conflicting conclusions related to the particpants’ varying degrees of hearing loss. Context, Cognition, and Deafness: An Introduction takes an interdisciplinary approach that clarifies these disparate findings by analyzing many methodologies. Editors M. Diane Clark, Marc Marschark, and Michael Karchmer, widely respected scholars in their own right, have assembled work by a varying cast of renowned researchers to elucidate the effects of family, peers, and schools on deaf children. To integrate the often contrasting approaches of clinical and cultural researchers, this sharply focused volume has called upon experts in anthropology, psychology, linguistics, basic visual sensory processes, education, cognition, and neurophysiology to share complementary observations. One of William C. Stokoe’s last contributions, “Deafness, Cognition, and Language” leads fluidly into Jeffrey P. Praden’s analysis of clinical assessments of deaf people’s cognitive abilities. Margaret Wilson expands on the impace of sign language expertise on visual perception. Context, Cognition, and Deafness also shows that theory can intersect practice, as displayed by editor Marschark and Jennifer Lukomski in their research on literacy, cognition, and education. Amy R. Lederberg and Patricia E. Spencer have combined sequential designs in their study of vocabulary learning. Ethan Remmel, Jeffrey G. Bettger, and Amy M. Weinberg explore the theory of mind development. The emotional development of deaf children also received detailed consideration by Colin D. Gray, Judith A. Hosie, Phil A. Russell, and Ellen A. Ormel. Kathryn P. Meadow-Orlans delineates her perspective on the coming of age of deaf children in relation to their education and development. Marschark concludes with insightful impressions on the future of theory and application, an appropriate close to this exceptional, coherent volume.