A PLACE OF THEIR OWN: Creating the Deaf Community  by John Vickrey Van Cleve

A PLACE OF THEIR OWN: Creating the Deaf Community

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A concise yet thorough and accessible history of the deaf community, its schools, and its long struggle to maintain a cohesive community--sometimes against formidable odds. The authors include a history of attitudes towards the deaf, of medical strides (and stumbles) in understanding deafness, and of the progress of educational methodology. The development of schools lot the deaf is comprehensively documented, with the rise of the deaf community chiefly attributed to the creation of residential schools in which deaf students began to associate with one another and build strong community bonds. Various organizations and newspapers for the deaf strengthened further their sense of community. Edward Miner Gallaudet and Amos Kendall established a college; American Sign Language was the crux of the community. Alexander Graham Bell went on a rampage against "signing," propounding oralism--speechreading--as a more mainstream way of educating the deaf. He felt that they would be better off assimilated into hearing society. Eventually, he attempted to prove that the marriage of two deaf individuals was more likely to cause deaf offspring than a marriage between one deaf and one hearing person. To quell this threat of forbidden choice, Edward Allen Fay proved the theory False. A competent work that fills a gap--and that shows quite clearly, sometimes inspiringly so, that deafness is not a curse.

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