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Leo Jacobs has written a unique and personal account of what it is like to be deaf in a hearing world. He speaks out on such issues as mainstreaming and its effect on deaf children and the Deaf community, total communication versus oralism, employment opportunities for deaf adults, and public policy toward deaf people. This new edition includes an update of services by and for deaf people, and an expanded chapter on legislation and social issues that have had an impact on the Deaf community in the last ten years.
From Carnival to the Canon
“The moment when a society must contend with a powerful language other than its own is a decisive point in its evolution. This moment is occurring now in American society.” Cynthia Peters explains precisely how American Sign Language (ASL) literature achieved this moment by tracing its past and predicting its future in Deaf American Literature: From Carnival to the Canon. Peters connects ASL literature to the literary canon with the archetypal notion of carnival as “the counterculture of the dominated.” Throughout history, carnivals have been opportunities for the “low,” disenfranchised elements of society to displace their “high” counterparts. Citing the Deaf community’s long tradition of “literary nights” and festivals like the Deaf Way, Peters recognizes similar forces at work in the propagation of ASL literature. The agents of this movement, Deaf artists and ASL performers—“Tricksters,” as Peters calls them—jump between the two cultures and languages. Through this process, they create a synthesis of English literary content reinterpreted in sign language, which raises the profile of ASL as a distinct art form in itself. In this trailblazing study, Peters applies her analysis to the craft’s landmark works, including Douglas Bullard’s novel Islay and Ben Bahan’s video-recorded narrative Bird of a Different Feather. Deaf American Literature, the only work of its kind, is its own seminal moment in the emerging discipline of ASL literary criticism.
This collection presents 14 essays by renowned scholars on Deaf people, Deafhood, Deaf histories, and Deaf identity, but from different points of view on the Deaf/Disability compass. Editors Susan Burch and Alison Kafer have divided these works around three themes. The first, Identities and Locations, explores Deaf identity in different contexts. Topics range from a history of activism shaped by the ableism of Deaf elites in the United States from 1880–1920, to a discussion of the roles that economics, location, race, and culture play in the experiences of a Deaf woman from northern Nigeria now living in Washington, D.C. Alliances and Activism showcases activisim organized across differences. Studies include a feminist analysis of how deaf and hearing women working together share responsibility, and an examination of how intra-cultural variations in New York City and Quebec affect deaf-focused HIV/AIDS programs. The third theme, Boundaries and Overlaps, explicitly addresses the relationships between Deaf Studies and Disability Studies. Interviews with scholars from both disciplines help define these relationships. Another contributor calls for hearing/not-deaf people with disabilities to support their Deaf peers in gaining language access to the United Nations. Deaf and Disability Studies: Interdisciplinary Perspectives reveals that different questions often lead to contrary conclusions among their authors, who still recognize that they all have a stake in this partnership.
Living the Life
Most stories about disabled people are written for the sake of being inspirational. These stories tend to focus on some achievement, such as a sports or academics, but rarely do they give a true and complete view of the challenges individuals must deal with on a daily basis. For example: How does a deaf-blind person interact with hearing-sighted people at a family reunion? How does she shop for groceries? What goes through his mind when he enters a classroom full of non-handicapped peers? These aren’t questions you are likely to find answers to while reading that incredible tale of success. They are, however, issues that a deaf-blind person wishes others understood. Deaf–Blind Reality: Living the Life explores what life is really like for persons with a combination of vision and hearing loss, and in a few cases, other disabilities as well. Editor Scott M. Stoffel presents extensive interviews with 12 deaf-blind individuals, including himself, who live around the world, from Missouri to New Zealand, Louisiana to South Africa, and Ohio to England. These contributors each describe their families’ reactions and the support they received; their experiences in school and entering adulthood; and how they coped with degeneration, ineffective treatments, and rehabilitation. Each discusses their personal education related to careers, relationships, and communication, including those with cochlear implants. Deaf–Blind Reality offers genuine understanding of the unspectacular, but altogether daunting challenges of daily life for deaf-blind people.
To learn how Chinese parents raise their deaf children, Alison Callaway in 1994 conducted extensive research in the city of Nanjing. There, she interviewed the parents of 26 deaf children while also carefully analyzing a large collection of letters written by other parents to the supervisor of a nursery school that was the center of her research. She also made fact-finding visits to several other schools and programs for deaf preschoolers, and had discussions with teachers, administrators, and staff members. The results of her study form the remarkable body of information presented in Deaf Children in China. Callaway crafted a comprehensive interview with 133 questions, 106 of which were strictly factual while 27 asked parents for their views, attitudes, reactions, and perceptions concerning various issues. Through detailed background analysis, she was able to enhance her interpretations through a balanced assessment of the cultural influences in China, such as the role of the family and the government's “one-child” policy. Although she speaks Chinese and is raising her Chinese son, she consciously monitored with even greater care any potential biases from her own Western antecedents that might affect her research. Deaf Children in China provides a striking profile of the views and attitudes of well-educated Chinese parents with preschool-age deaf children. Callaway's inclusion of a survey of 122 English mothers of deaf children reveals the differences between Western and Chinese parents, who rely upon grandparents to help them and who frequently search for medical cures. Yet, she also discovered that many issues cross cultures and contexts, especially the problems of achieving early diagnosis and intervention for all deaf children, and optimizing early development of language in deaf children of hearing parents. Her pioneering work will fascinate and enlighten readers invested in the development of deaf children for years to come.
Emergence, Struggle, and Rhetoric
Employing the methodology successfully used to explore other social movements in America, this meticulous study examines the rhetorical foundation that motivated Deaf people to work for social change during the past two centuries. In clear, concise prose, Jankowski begins by explaining her use of the term social movement in relation to the desire for change among Deaf people and analyzes the rhetoric they used, not limited to spoken language, to galvanize effective action. Central to Deaf Empowerment is the struggle between the dominant hearing society and Deaf people over the best means of communication, with the educational setting as the constant battleground. This evocative work first tracks the history of interaction between these two factions, highlighting the speaking majority’s desire to compel Deaf people to conform to “the human sciences” conventionality by learning speech. Then, it sharply focuses on the development of the Deaf social movement's ideology to seek general recognition of sign language as a valid cultural variation. Also, the influence of social movements of the 60s and 70s is examined in relation to the changing context and perception of the Deaf movement, as well as to its rhetorical refinement. Deaf Empowerment delineates the apex of effective Deaf rhetoric in describing the success of the Deaf President Now! protest at Gallaudet University in 1988, its aftermath, and ensuing strategies. It concludes with an assessment of the goal of a multicultural society and offers suggestions for community building through a new humanitarianism. Scholars of social movements and Deaf studies will find it to be a uniquely provocative addition to their libraries and classrooms.
Raising the Stakes for Human Diversity
Deaf people are usually regarded by the hearing world as having a lack, as missing a sense. Yet a definition of deaf people based on hearing loss obscures a wealth of ways in which societies have benefited from the significant contributions of deaf people. In this bold intervention into ongoing debates about disability and what it means to be human, experts from a variety of disciplines—neuroscience, linguistics, bioethics, history, cultural studies, education, public policy, art, and architecture—advance the concept of Deaf Gain and challenge assumptions about what is normal.
Through their in-depth articulation of Deaf Gain, the editors and authors of this pathbreaking volume approach deafness as a distinct way of being in the world, one which opens up perceptions, perspectives, and insights that are less common to the majority of hearing persons. For example, deaf individuals tend to have unique capabilities in spatial and facial recognition, peripheral processing, and the detection of images. And users of sign language, which neuroscientists have shown to be biologically equivalent to speech, contribute toward a robust range of creative expression and understanding. By framing deafness in terms of its intellectual, creative, and cultural benefits, Deaf Gain recognizes physical and cognitive difference as a vital aspect of human diversity.
Contributors: David Armstrong; Benjamin Bahan, Gallaudet U; Hansel Bauman, Gallaudet U; John D. Bonvillian, U of Virginia; Alison Bryan; Teresa Blankmeyer Burke, Gallaudet U; Cindee Calton; Debra Cole; Matthew Dye, U of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign; Steve Emery; Ofelia García, CUNY; Peter C. Hauser, Rochester Institute of Technology; Geo Kartheiser; Caroline Kobek Pezzarossi; Christopher Krentz, U of Virginia; Annelies Kusters; Irene W. Leigh, Gallaudet U; Elizabeth M. Lockwood, U of Arizona; Summer Loeffler; Mara Lúcia Massuti, Instituto Federal de Santa Catarina, Brazil; Donna A. Morere, Gallaudet U; Kati Morton; Ronice Müller de Quadros, U Federal de Santa Catarina, Brazil; Donna Jo Napoli, Swarthmore College; Jennifer Nelson, Gallaudet U; Laura-Ann Petitto, Gallaudet U; Suvi Pylvänen, Kymenlaakso U of Applied Sciences; Antti Raike, Aalto U; Päivi Rainò, U of Applied Sciences Humak; Katherine D. Rogers; Clara Sherley-Appel; Kristin Snoddon, U of Alberta; Karin Strobel, U Federal de Santa Catarina, Brazil; Hilary Sutherland; Rachel Sutton-Spence, U of Bristol, England; James Tabery, U of Utah; Jennifer Grinder Witteborg; Mark Zaurov.
Born in 1938, R. H. Miller was the oldest of four hearing boys with deaf parents in Defiance, Ohio, a small agricultural community. Deaf Hearing Boy is Miller’s compelling account of the complex dynamics at work in his family, including the inter-generational conflicts in which he found himself, the oldest child of deaf adults (CODA), caught in the middle. In 1942, Miller’s family moved to Toledo so that his father could find work. There, they fared well during World War II because his father worked in manufacturing as a member of Roosevelt’s “civilian army.” Miller’s mother loved urban life, where she and the family could immerse themselves in the Toledo Deaf community, especially at the Toledo Silent Club. The end of the war marked the end of prosperity for the Miller family. Returning soldiers displaced all of the deaf workers, who then had to scrape for a living. The Millers, close to destitution, returned to the family farm in Defiance. Miller depicts the return to farm life as one of tremendous hardship, both economically and psychologically. They lived off the land from hand to mouth. He also describes his grandparents’ distrust of his parents because they were deaf, and he writes candidly of his role as an unwilling agent in the misunderstandings between them. Miller also portrays the bias he endured in school and town. Parents of girlfriends would force their daughters to stop dating him for fear that his family’s deafness would be passed down. In the early 1950s, Miller’s grandparents sold the farm and his parents returned to industrial work. Miller excelled at school, and eventually left home for college and life in academia. His later reflections reveal a deep, abiding respect for his parents, despite his early difficulties. Deaf Hearing Boy presents an intimate depiction of a changing time for hearing and deaf Americans alike, when the family farm disappeared and the isolation of Deaf people also began to fade. In witnessing this transformation of society through his family’s life, Miller adds an important chapter to the collective narrative of Deaf people, one made all the more poignant and vivid as told by their Deaf Hearing Boy.
A Narrative History of Deaf America
Now, Jack R. Gannon’s original groundbreaking volume on Deaf history and culture is available once again. In Deaf Heritage: A Narrative History of Deaf America, Gannon brought together for the first time the story of the Deaf experience in America from a Deaf perspective. Recognizing the need to document the multifaceted history of this unique minority with its distinctive visual culture, he painstakingly gathered as much material as he could on Deaf American life. The result is a 17-chapter montage of artifacts and information that forms an utterly fascinating record from the early nineteenth century to the time of its original publication in 1981. Deaf Heritage tracks the development of the Deaf community both chronologically and by significant subjects. The initial chapter treats the critical topics of early attempts at deaf education, the impact of Deaf and Black deaf teachers, the establishment of schools for the deaf, and the founding of Gallaudet College. Individual chapters cover the 1880s through the 1970s, mixing milestones such as the birth of the National Association of the Deaf and the work of important figures, Deaf and hearing, with anecdotes about day-to-day deaf life. Other chapters single out important facets of Deaf culture: American Sign Language, Deaf Sports, Deaf artists, Deaf humor, and Deaf publications. The overall effect of this remarkable record, replete with archival photographs, tables, and lists of Deaf people’s accomplishments, reveals the growth of a vibrant legacy singular in American history.
The Deaf History Reader presents nine masterful chapters that bring together a remarkably vivid depiction of the varied Deaf experience in America. This collection features the finest scholarship from a noteworthy group of historians, including Reginald Boyd, Barry A. Crouch, Mary French, Brian H. Greenwald, Harlan Lane, Harry G. Lang, Kent R. Olney, Richard Pillard, Jill Hendricks Porco, Michael Reis, and volume editor John Vickrey Van Cleve. The incisive articles collected here include an exploration of the genesis of the Deaf community and early evidence of the use of sign language; a comparison of a failed, oralist school for deaf students in Virginia to the success of the American School for the Deaf in Hartford, Connecticut; the development of Deaf consciousness among people who carried a dominant gene for deafness; a biographical sketch of Mary Ann Walworth Booth, an accomplished deaf woman who lived on the Western frontier; an account of Deaf agency in the Indiana Institution and the Evansville Day School; the early antecedents of mainstreaming deaf children despite the objections of their parents; a profile of Alexander Graham Bell that contrasts his support of eugenics to his defense of Deaf rights; the conflicting actions of supervisors of the Pennsylvania Society for the Advancement of the Deaf; and finally, the critical role played by deaf people in the Chicago Mission for the Deaf’s success in maintaining the Deaf community for more than five decades. The remarkably rich range of topics treated in The Deaf History Reader assure its future status as a standard resource for all Deaf scholars and students.