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Social Sciences > Deaf and Disability Studies

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The Art of Being Deaf Cover

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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.

Assessing Deaf Adults  Cover

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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.

Backlash Against the ADA Cover

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Backlash Against the ADA

Reinterpreting Disability Rights

Linda Hamilton Krieger, Editor

For civil rights lawyers who toiled through the 1980s in the increasingly barren fields of race and sex discrimination law, the approval of the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990 by a nearly unanimous U.S. House and Senate and a Republican President seemed almost fantastic. Within five years of the Act's effective date, however, observers were warning of an unfolding assault on the ADA by federal judges, the media, and other national opinion-makers. A year after the Supreme Court issued a trio of decisions in the summer of 1999 sharply limiting the ADA's reach, another decision invalidated an entire title of the act as it applied to the states. By this time, disability activists and disability rights lawyers were speaking openly of a backlash against the ADA. What happened, why did it happen, and what can we learn from the patterns of public, media, and judicial response to the ADA that emerged in the 1990s? In this book, a distinguished group of disability activists, disability rights lawyers, social scientists and humanities scholars grapple with these questions. Taken together, these essays construct and illustrate a new and powerful theoretical model of sociolegal change and retrenchment that can inform both the conceptual and theoretical work of scholars and the day-to-day practice of social justice activists. Contributors include Lennard J. Davis, Matthew Diller, Harlan Hahn, Linda Hamilton Krieger, Vicki A. Laden, Stephen L. Percy, Marta Russell, and Gregory Schwartz. Backlash Against the ADA will interest disability rights activists, lawyers, law students and legal scholars interested in social justice and social change movements, and students and scholars in disability studies, political science, media studies, American studies, social movement theory, and legal history. Linda Hamilton Krieger is Professor of Law, University of California School of Law, Berkeley.

Bilingualism and Identity in Deaf Communities Cover

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Bilingualism and Identity in Deaf Communities

Melanie Metzger, Editor

perception reality? Editor Melanie Metzger investigates the cultural perceptions by and of deaf people around the world in volume six of the Sociolinguistics series Bilingualism and Identity in Deaf Communities. “All sociocultural groups offer possible solutions to the dilemma that a deaf child presents to the larger group,” write Claire Ramsey and Jose Antonio Noriega in their essay, “Ninos Milagrizados: Language Attitudes, Deaf Education, and Miracle Cures in Mexico.” In this case, Ramsey and Noriega analyze cultural attempts to “unify” deaf children with the rest of the community. Other contributors report similar phenomena in deaf communities in New Zealand, Nicaragua, and Spain, paying particular attention to how society’s view of deaf people affects how deaf people view themselves. A second theme pervasive in this collection, akin to the questions of perception and identity, is the impact of bilingualism in deaf communities. Peter C. Hauser offers a study of an American child proficient in both ASL and Cued English while Annica Detthow analyzes “transliteration” between Spoken Swedish and Swedish Sign Language. Like its predecessors, this sixth volume of the Sociolinguistics series distinguishes itself by the depth and diversity of its research, making it a welcome addition to any scholar’s library.

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The Biopolitics of Disability

Neoliberalism, Ablenationalism, and Peripheral Embodiment

David T. Mitchell with Sharon L. Snyder

In the neoliberal era, when human worth is measured by its relative utility within global consumer culture, selected disabled people have been able to gain entrance into late capitalist culture. The Biopolitics of Disability terms this phenomenon “ablenationalism” and asserts that “inclusion” becomes meaningful only if disability is recognized as providing modes of living that are alternatives to governing norms of productivity and independence. Thus, the book pushes beyond questions of impairment to explore how disability subjectivities create new forms of embodied knowledge and collective consciousness. The focus is on the emergence of new crip/queer subjectivities at work in disability arts, disability studies pedagogy, independent and mainstream disability cinema (e.g., Midnight Cowboy), internet-based medical user groups, anti-normative novels of embodiment (e.g., Richard Powers’s The Echo-Maker) and, finally, the labor of living in “non-productive” bodies within late capitalism.

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Blind Rage

Letters to Helen Keller

Georgina Kleege

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.

BUG Cover

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Deaf Identity and Internal Revolution

Christophoer Jon Heuer

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.

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The Capacity Contract

Intellectual Disability and the Question of Citizenship

Stacy Clifford Simplican

In the first sustained examination of disability through the lens of political theory, The Capacity Contract shows how the exclusion of disabled people has shaped democratic politics. Stacy Clifford Simplican demonstrates how disability buttresses systems of domination based on race, sex, and gender. She exposes how democratic theory and politics have long blocked from political citizenship anyone whose cognitive capacity falls below a threshold level⎯marginalization with real-world repercussions on the implementation of disability rights today.

Simplican’s compelling ethnographic analysis of the self-advocacy movement describes the obstacles it faces. From the outside, the movement must confront stiff budget cuts and dwindling memberships; internally, self-advocates must find ways to demand political standing without reinforcing entrenched stigma against people with profound cognitive disabilities. And yet Simplican’s investigation also offers democratic theorists and disability activists a more emancipatory vision of democracy as it relates to disability⎯one that focuses on enabling people to engage in public and spontaneous action to disrupt exclusion and stigma.
Taking seriously democratic promises of equality and inclusion, The Capacity Contract rejects conceptions of political citizenship that privilege cognitive capacity and, instead, centers such citizenship on action that is accessible to all people.

Chang and Eng Reconnected Cover

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Chang and Eng Reconnected

The Original Siamese Twins in American Culture

Cynthia Wu

Conjoined twins Chang and Eng Bunker have fascinated the world since the nineteenth century. In her captivating book, Chang and Eng Reconnected, Cynthia Wu traces the “Original Siamese Twins” through the terrain of American culture, showing how their inseparability underscored tensions between individuality and collectivity in the American popular imagination. 

Using letters, medical documents and exhibits, literature, art, film, and family lore, Wu provides a trans-historical analysis that presents the Bunkers as both a material presence and as metaphor. She also shows how the twins figure in representations of race, disability, and science in fictional narratives about nation building.

As astute entrepreneurs, the twins managed their own lives; nonetheless, as Chang and Eng Reconnected shows, American culture has always viewed them through the multiple lenses of difference.

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Claiming Disability

Knowledge and Identity

Simi Linton

From public transportation and education to adequate access to buildings, the social impact of disability has been felt everywhere since the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990. And a remarkable groundswell of activism and critical literature has followed in this wake.

Claiming Disability is the first comprehensive examination of Disability Studies as a field of inquiry. Disability Studies is not simply about the variations that exist in human behavior, appearance, functioning, sensory acuity, and cognitive processing but the meaning we make of those variations. With vivid imagery and numerous examples, Simi Linton explores the divisions society creates—the normal versus the pathological, the competent citizen versus the ward of the state.

Map and manifesto, Claiming Disability overturns medicalized versions of disability and establishes disabled people and their allies as the rightful claimants to this territory.

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