By Jean F. Andrews
Tom Holcomb, writer-scholar-teacher who is Deaf, captures the heart, mind and soul of the Deaf community in his book, Introduction to American Deaf Culture.
Respect me as a member of a cultural-linguistic group, don’t pity me as a member of a group of disabled individuals.
While sign languages are not universal as each country has its own indigenous sign language, Deaf people worldwide have universal shared experiences that few know about. These include adopting similar solutions for effective living in a dominant hear-centric society, the use of a sign language, the congregation of like-minded deaf people, and the sharing of information.
Holcomb begins each chapter with a painting or drawing of a Deaf artist and ends with a poem written by a Deaf poet. Readers will also learn about the vibrant culture of Deaf people, its history and heritage, sports, organizations and leisure activities, the politics in education, their feelings, aspirations and goals, protective legislation and laws for Deaf rights, policies that have harmed deaf children such as the history of the exclusion of Deaf teachers and the keeping of ASL and how information about Deaf culture is routinely kept from parents with newly diagnosed deaf children.
The book has its uplifting parts. For instance, Holcomb inspirationally chronicles the journeys and accomplishments of diverse Deaf Americans as well as international Deaf people. Readers will also learn how technology has been a boon and bane. Videophones , text pagers, email, instant messaging, VRS, VRI, captioning, voice recognition technology and the like have provided access to communication but cochlear surgeries, auditory technology such as cochlear implants, hearing aids, and genetic engineering have sought to eradicate the Deaf culture as well as stimulate the economy by capitalizing on treatments for deafness for financial gain. Parents and professionals interested in Deaf culture will benefit from this book.
Medical school students, doctors, audiologists and Au.D. candidates and other professionals who unknowingly impose “contrived solutions” on Deaf people rather than involving Deaf adults in decisions affecting young deaf children may find this book refreshing and enlightening.
The book is available through Amazon.com by going here.
Jean F. Andrews is a Reading Specialist and Professor of Deaf Studies/Deaf Education at Lamar University.
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