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As a child of deaf adults (CODA), Pia Taavila first learned to communicate when her deaf father fingerspelled the names of toys in her crib and her mother showed her the signs for objects in picture books. From this primary visual orientation, in combination with her own innate sense of imagery, Taavila crafted the lush verse featured in Moon on the Meadow: Collected Poems. Taavila uses the graphic power of her poetry to evoke emotions about all aspects of existence — love, loss of love, family, death, and desire — feelings elicited through a lens attuned to the simple beauty of the natural. Most of the poems in Moon on the Meadow have been published at least once in established journals, testimony to the broad appeal of her passionate outlook on life. Yet, Taavila believes that her experiences as a CODA are essential to her ability to write at all. She never strays far from her home, her family, and the comforts they bring her through her art. At a wedding, a flautist’s languid notes lilt on the air. My mother, who cannot hear, leans forward, attentive to the dip and sway of his body. She signs to me: It sounds like butterflies
Poems and Prose on the Early American Deaf Community
Lydia Huntley was born in 1791 in Norwich, CT, the only child of a poor Revolutionary war veteran. But her father’s employer, a wealthy widow, gave young Lydia the run of her library and later sent her for visits to Hartford, CT. After teaching at her own school for several years in Norwich, Lydia returned to Hartford to head a class of 15 girls from the best families. Among her students was Alice Cogswell, a deaf girl soon to be famous as a student of Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet and Laurent Clerc. Lydia’s inspiration came from a deep commitment to the education of girls and also for African American, Indian, and deaf children. She left teaching to marry Charles Sigourney, then turned to writing to support her family, publishing 56 books, 2,000 magazine articles, and popular poetry. Lydia Sigourney never abandoned her passion for deaf education, remaining a supporter of Gallaudet’s school for the deaf until her death. Yet, her contributions to deaf education and her writing have been forgotten until now. The best of Lydia Sigourney’s work on the nascent Deaf community is presented in this new volume. Her writing intertwines her mastery of the sentimentalism form popular in her day with her sharp insights on the best ways to educate deaf children. In the process, Mrs. Sigourney of Hartford reestablishes her rightful place in history.
This collection offers a wide variety of fascinating studies that consider multicultural aspects among deaf people worldwide. Mala Kleinfeld and Noni Warner investigate variation in the use of gay, lesbian, and bisexual signs in the Deaf community; Jan Branson, Don Miller, and I Gede Marsaja, assisted by I Wayan Negara, profile a deaf village in Bali, Indonesia in which hearing people are fluent in both sign and spoken languages. Alejandro Oviedo in Venezuela comments on bilingual deaf education in Venezuela, and Sara Schley outlines the sociolinguistic and educational implications of comparing ASL and English word definitions. Susan Mather discusses initiation in visually constructed dialogue from reading books with 3- to 8-year-old students who are deaf or hard of hearing. Pietro Celo offers insights on the interrogative in Italian Sign Language, and Julie Wilson examines narrative structure in American Sign Language ASL) through her analysis of “the tobacco story.” Rhonda Jacobs completes this significant, wide-ranging volume with her research on second language learning, as she presents the case for ASL as a truly foreign language by posing the question, “Just how hard is it to learn ASL?”
From the Great Plains to Australia
The latest entry in the Sociolinguistics in Deaf Communities series continues to mine the rich resources found in signing communities throughout the world. Divided into four parts, this collection features 16 internationally renowned linguistics experts whose absorbing studies reflect an astonishing range of linguistic diversity. The sole essay in Part One: Multilingualism describes historic and contemporary uses of North American Indian Sign Language. Part Two: Language Contact examines language-contact phenomena between Auslan/English interpreters and Deaf people in Australia, and the features of bimodal bilingualism in hearing, Italian, native signers. Part Three: Variation reports the results of a study on location variation in Australian Sign Language. Part Four: Discourse Analysis begins with an analysis of how deaf parents and their hearing toddlers establish and maintain sight triangles when conducting signed conversations. The ensuing chapter explores the use of evaluation within an informal narrative in Langue des Signes Québécoise. The final chapter explicates how a signer depersonalizes the concept of “self” in an American Sign Language narrative through the use of signs for “he” and “I.”
A Deaf Woman's Remarkable Story
Doris Herrmann was born deaf in 1933 in Basle, Switzerland, and from the age of three, she possessed a mystical attraction to kangaroos. She recalls seeing them at that age for the first time at the Basle Zoo, and spending every spare moment visiting them from then on. Eventually, her fascination grew into passionate study of their behavior. Her dedication caught the attention of the zoo keepers who provided her greater access to these extraordinary animals. Despite her challenges with communication, Herrmann wrote a scientific paper about the kangaroo’s pouch hygiene when raising a joey. Soon, experts from around the world came to visit this precocious deaf girl who knew about kangaroos. Herrmann appreciated the opportunities opening up to her, but her real dream was to travel to Australia to study kangaroos in the wild. For years she worked and yearned, until Dr. Karl H. Winkelsträter a renowned authority on kangaroos, suggested an independent study in Australia at a place called Pebbly Beach. In 1969, at the age of 35, Herrmann finally traveled to the native land of kangaroos. During the next four decades, she would make many more trips to observe and write about kangaroos. My Life with Kangaroos explores every facet of Herrmann’s connection to these engaging marsupials. Her single-minded devotion not only made her a leading self-made scholar on kangaroos, it transformed her own personality and her relationships with others. As she forged bonds with kangaroos named Dora, Jacqueline, Manuela, and many others, she engendered great affection and respect in the people around her, truly a remarkable story of success.
A Young Australian’s Experience with Deafness
Born in Melbourne, Australia, in 1974, Paul Jacobs lost his mother when he was three months old. When he was five, he lost most of his hearing. These two defining events formed the core of his being. He spent the first two decades of his life “coming to terms with being neither Deaf nor hearing — a neither/nor, an in-between — and a person with a social identity that had yet to be invented.” His memoir, Neither—Nor: A Young Australian’s Experience with Deafness, recounts this journey. Jacobs excelled in sports and the classroom, but he never lost awareness of how he was seen as different, often in cruel or patronizing ways. His father, a child psychologist, headed a long list of supportive people in his life, including his Uncle Brian, his itinerant teacher of the deaf Mrs. Carey, a gifted art teacher Mrs. Klein, who demanded and received from him first-rate work, a notetaker Rita, and Bella, his first girlfriend. Jacobs eventually attended university, where he graduated with honors. He also entered the Deaf world when he starred on the Deaf Australian World Cup cricket team. However, he never learned sign language, and frequently noted the lack of an adult role model for “neither—nors” such as himself. Still emotionally adrift in 1998, Jacobs toured Europe, then volunteered to tutor deaf residents at Court Grange College in Devon, England. There, he discovered a darker reality for some deaf individuals — hearing loss complicated by schizophrenia, Bonnevie-Ullrich Syndrome, and other conditions. After returning to Australia, Jacobs recognized what he had gleaned from his long journey: “Power comes from within, not without. Sure, deafness makes one prone to be stigmatized. Yet having a disability can act as a stimulus for greater personal growth, richer experiences, and more genuine relationships.”
Bell, Gallaudet, and the Communications Debate
Throughout the last two centuries, a controversial question has plagued the field of education of the deaf: Should sign language be used to communicate with and instruct deaf children? Never the Twain Shall Meet focuses on the debate over this question, especially as it was waged in the 19th century, when it was at its highest pitch and the battle lines were clearly drawn. In addition to exploring Alexander Graham Bell’s and Edward Miner Gallaudet’s familial and educational backgrounds, Never the Twain Shall Meet looks at how their views of society affected their philosophies of education and how their work continues to influence the education of deaf students today.
Telecommunications Equality for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Americans
When three deaf men in the 1960s invented and sold TTYs, the first teletypewriting devices that allowed deaf people to communicate by telephone, they started a telecommunications revolution for deaf people throughout America. A New Civil Right: Telecommunications Equality for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Americans chronicles the history of this movement, which lagged behind new technical developments decades after the advent of TTYs. In this highly original work, Author Karen Peltz Strauss reveals how the paternalism of the hearing-oriented telecommunications industries slowed support for technology for deaf users. Throughout this comprehensive account, she emphasizes the grassroots efforts behind all of the eventual successes. A New Civil Right recounts each advance in turn, such as the pursuit of special customer premises equipment (SCPE) from telephone companies; the Telecommunications Act of 1982 and the Telecommunications Accessibility Enhancement Act of 1988 and the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act, which required nationwide relay telephone services for deaf and hard of hearing users. Strauss painstakingly details how all of these advances occurred incrementally, first on local and state levels, and later through federal law. It took exhaustive campaigning to establish 711 for nationwide relay dialing, while universal access to television captioning required diligent legal and legislative work to pass the Decoder Circuitry Act in 1990. The same persistence resulted in the enactment of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, which required all off-the-shelf communications equipment, including new wireless technology, to be readily accessible to deaf users.
A Hearing Daughter's Stories of Her Black Deaf Parents
As an African American woman born in 1943, Maxine Childress Brown possessed a unique vantage point to witness the transformative events in her parents’ lives. Both came from the South C her father, Herbert Childress, from Knoxville, TN, and her mother, Thomasina Noble Brown, from Concord, NC. The oldest of three daughters, Maxine was fascinated by her parents’ stories. She marveled at how they raised a well-respected, middle-class family in the midst of segregation with the added challenge of being deaf. Her parents met in Washington, DC, where they married and settled down. Her father worked as a shoe repairman for $65 per week for more than 15 years. A gifted seamstress, her mother gave up sewing to clean houses. Because of their modest means, Maxine and her sisters lived more than modest lives. When Maxine’s tonsils became infected, her parents could not afford the operation to have them removed. For her high school prom, her mother bought her a dress on credit because she had no time to sew. Herbert Childress showed great love for his young daughters, but events turned him to bitterness and to drink. Throughout all, Thomasina encouraged her girls, always urging them to excel. She demanded their honest best with her signature phrase, her flat hand raised from her mouth straight up in the air, “on the beat of truth.”
Intellectual Disability and Civil Rights in Twentieth-Century America