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ACCESS Cover

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ACCESS

Multiple Avenues for Deaf People

Doreen DeLuca, Irene W. Leigh, Kristen A. Lindgren, and Donna Jo Napoli, Editors

The companion to Signs and Voices: Deaf Culture, Identity, Language, and Arts, this volume presents an accomplished group of contributors who address the major technological, institutional, and societal advances in access for deaf people, as well as the remaining hurdles. Part One: Assistive Technologies begins with Maggie Casteel’s description of the latest innovative hearing assistive technology. Al Sonnenstrahl discusses his career as a deaf engineer who segued into advocating for equal access in telecommunications. Robert C. O’Reilly, Amanda J. Mangiardi, and H. Timothy Bunnell outline the process of cochlear implantation in children.

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Acts of Conspicuous Compassion

Performance Culture and American Charity Practices

Sheila C. Moeschen

Acts of Conspicuous Compassion investigates the relationship between performance culture and the cultivation of charitable sentiment in America, exploring the distinctive practices that have evolved to make the plea for charity legible and compelling. From the work of 19th-century melodramas to the televised drama of transformation and redemption in reality TV’s Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, Acts of Conspicuous Compassion charts the sophisticated strategies employed by various charity movements responsible for making organized benevolence alluring, exciting, and seemingly uncomplicated. Sheila C. Moeschen brokers a new way of accounting for the legacy and involvement of disabled people within charity—specifically, the articulation of performance culture as a vital theoretical framework for discussing issues of embodiment and identity dislodges previously held notions of the disabled existing as passive, “objects” of pity. This work gives rise to a more complicated and nuanced discussion of the participation of the disabled community in the charity industry, of the opportunities afforded by performance culture for disabled people to act as critical agents of charity, and of the new ethical and political issues that arise from employing performance methodology in a culture with increased appetites for voyeurism, display, and complex spectacle.

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Advances in Cognition, Education, and Deafness

David S. Martin, Editor

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Alandra's Lilacs

The Story of a Mother and Her Deaf Daughter

Tressa Bowers

When, in 1968, 19-year-old Tressa Bowers took her baby daughter to an expert on deaf children, he pronounced that Alandra was “stone deaf,” she most likely would never be able to talk, and she probably would not get much of an education because of her communication limitations. Tressa refused to accept this stark assessment of Alandra’s prospects. Instead, she began the arduous process of starting her daughter’s education. Economic need forced Tressa to move several times, and as a result, she and Alandra experienced a variety of learning environments: a pure oralist approach, which discouraged signing; Total Communication, in which the teachers spoke and signed simultaneously; a residential school for deaf children, where Signed English was employed; and a mainstream public school that relied upon interpreters. Changes at home added more demands, from Tressa’s divorce to her remarriage, her long work hours, and the ongoing challenge of complete communication within their family. Through it all, Tressa and Alandra never lost sight of their love for each other, and their affection rippled through the entire family. Today, Tressa can triumphantly point to her confident, educated daughter and also speak with pride of her wonderful relationship with her deaf grandchildren. Alandra’s Lilacs is a marvelous story about the resiliency and achievements of determined, loving people no matter what their circumstances might be.

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American Annals of the Deaf

Vol. 125 (1980) through current issue

For 150 years, the American Annals of the Deaf, has been a professional journal dedicated to quality in education and in related services for children and adults who are deaf and hard of hearing. The Annals publishes articles about deaf education and recent research into trends and issues in the field of deafness.

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American Sign Language and Early Literacy

A Model Parent-Child Program

Kristin Snoddon

The usual definition of the term “literacy”generally corresponds with mastering the reading and writing of a spoken language. This narrow scope often engenders unsubstantiated claims that print literacy alone leads to, among other so-called higher-order thinking skills, logical and rational thinking and the abstract use of language. Thus, the importance of literacy for deaf children in American Sign Language (ASL) is marginalized, asserts author Kristin Snoddon in her new book American Sign Language and Early Literacy: A Model Parent-Child Program. As a contrast, Snoddon describes conducting an ethnographic, action study of the ASL Parent-Child Mother Goose program, provided by a Deaf service agency in Ontario, Canada to teach ASL literacy to deaf children. According to current scholarship, literacy is achieved through primary discourse shared with parents and other intimates, which establishes a child’s initial sense of identity, culture, and vernacular language. Secondary discourse derives from outside agents and interaction, such as expanding an individual’s literacy to other languages. Snoddon writes that the focus of the ASL Parent-Child Mother Goose program is on teaching ASL through rhymes and stories and some facets of the culture of Deaf ASL users. This focus enabled hearing parents to impart first-language acquisition and socialization to their deaf children in a more natural primary discourse as if the parents were Deaf themselves. At the same time, hearing parents experienced secondary discourses through their exposure to ASL and Deaf culture. Snoddon also comments on current infant hearing screening and early intervention and the gaps in these services. She discusses gatekeeper individuals and institutions that restrict access to ASL for young Deaf children and their families. Finally, she reports on public resources for supporting ASL literacy and the implications of her findings regarding the benefits of early ASL literacy programming for Deaf children and their families.

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Amy Signs

A Mother, Her Daughter, and their Stories

Rebecca Willman Gernon and Amy Willman

“Thirty-seven years ago, I vowed to write a truthful book about raising a deaf child.” Rebecca Willman Gernon followed through on her promise with her deaf daughter Amy Willman in this extraordinary new narrative. Many stories have been told about a parent’s struggle to help her deaf child succeed in a mostly hearing world. Amy Signs marks a signature departure in that both Rebecca and Amy relate their perspectives on their journey together. When she learns of 11-month-old Amy’s deafness in 1969, Rebecca fully expresses her anguish, and traces all of the difficulties she endured in trying to find the right educational environment for Amy. The sacrifices of the rest of her family weighed heavily on her, also. When she resolved to place four-year-old Amy in Nebraska’s residential school for deaf students, the emotional toll seemed too much to bear. Amy’s view acts as the perfect counterpoint. Interwoven with her mother’s story, Amy’s account confirms that signing served her best. She summarizes life in boarding school as “laughter and homesickness.” She laughed with all of her deaf friends, though felt homesick at times. Amy thanks her mother for the gift of sign, asserting that a mainstream education would never have led her to earn a master’s degree and later teach ASL at the University of Nebraska. Amy Signs is a positive albeit cautionary tale for parents of deaf children today whose only choice is a mainstreamed education.

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Angels and Outcasts

An Anthology of Deaf Characters in Literature

Trent Batson and Eugene Bergman

Dickens, Welty, and Turgenev are only three of the master storytellers in Angels and Outcasts. This remarkable collection of 14 short stories offers insights into what it means to be deaf in a hearing world. The book is divided into three parts: the first section explores works by nineteenth-century authors; the second section concentrates on stories by twentieth-century authors; and the final section focuses on stories by authors who are themselves deaf. Each section begins with an introduction by the editors, and each story is preceded by a preface. Angels and Outcasts concludes with an annotated bibliography of other prose works about the deaf experience. In addition to fascinating reading, it provides valuable insights into the world of the deaf.

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The Art of Being Deaf

A Memoir

Concerned about aspects of her romantic relationships, Donna McDonald consulted with a psychologist who asked, “‘Your hearing loss must have had a big impact on you?” At age 45, with a successful career in social work policy, McDonald took umbrage at the question. Then, she realized that she never had addressed the personal barrier she had constructed between her deaf-self and her hearing persona. In the Art of Being Deaf, she traces her long, arduous pursuit of finding out exactly who she was.

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Assessing Deaf Adults

Critical Issues in Testing and Evaluation

Judith L. Mounty and David S. Martin, Editors, Foreword by Oscar P. Cohen

Historically, deaf and hard of hearing people have demonstrated various levels of competence in a multitude of professions, but they also have experienced discrimination and oppression. In five critical sections, this volume responds to the tidal wave of high-stakes testing that has come to dominate educational policy and qualification for various occupations. It provides a digest of relevant research to meet the testing challenge, including work done by educational researchers, legal experts, test developers, and others. Section I frames the contexts facing deaf and hard of hearing individuals and those who test them, including a telling historical perspective. In Section II, chapters explore how deaf and hard of hearing candidates can meet the rigors of test-taking, how to level the playing field with a new approach to assessment, and what to consider to develop fully accessible licensing tests. The final chapter in this part examines the psychometric properties of intellectual assessments when used with deaf and hard of hearing people. Administrative issues constitute Section III, beginning with legal considerations related to equity testing for deaf adults. An exploration of the potential of sign language interpretation in the testing environment follows. Section IV provides case studies of deaf and hard of hearing adults from a variety of professions, including certification testing for therapeutic recreation, preparation strategies for university students, and ways to maximize access to licensure for social workers. A separate chapter addresses the impact of recent federal mandates on assessment of deaf and hard of hearing teachers and teaching candidates. The final section summarizes the current situation and presents recommendations to manage it, concluding with an epilogue on directions for the future.

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