THE FEEL OF SILENCE by Bonnie Poitras Tucker


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With exasperation, humor, and occasional bitterness, an assertive, high-achieving, profoundly deaf woman recounts her lifelong struggle to fit into the hearing world. Tucker, who does not know sign language but lip-reads with expertise and speaks with clarity, spent more of her life denying her deafness than acknowledging it. Opting to live in the mainstream of society rather than in the deaf (or Deaf, as they prefer it) cultural community, she experiences the frustrations and rewards of that ""self-created limbo."" Tucker divides her life into three periods: child and student; wife and mother; lawyer, law professor, and grandmother. Amazingly, she says that she never discussed her deafness with her parents or brothers while she was growing up, nor with her husband or children during the 17 years of her marriage. Her descriptions of the difficulties she faced raising children are fascinating--when her husband worked nights, for example, she trained herself to wake at 30-minute intervals to check on her children--as are her accounts of life as a litigation attorney, a career in which she was apparently a smashing success. (In the courtroom an interpreter would mouth what was being said by others so that Tucker could follow the proceedings.) After failing to become a court of appeals judge, she joined Arizona State University as a professor of law. Now an expert on disability rights, Tucker seems to accept her deafness. Yet in her final pages she hedges: ""I am a deaf person, yes. But I think and communicate as a hearing person. I am a hearing person with limitations."" Those on both sides of the question of how to educate deaf children--oralism versus sign--will find fuel here. What is clear is that the costs and the benefits of either path can be enormous.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1995
ISBN: 1566393523
Page count: 210pp
Publisher: Temple Univ.