Deaf Gain

Deaf Gain: Raising the Stakes for Human Diversity

H-Dirksen L. Bauman
Joseph J. Murray
Foreword by Andrew Solomon
Afterword by Tove Skuttnab-Kangas
Copyright Date: 2014
Pages: 568
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.5749/j.ctt9qh3m7
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  • Book Info
    Deaf Gain
    Book Description:

    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 Gainrecognizes 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.

    eISBN: 978-1-4529-4203-2
    Subjects: Education, Sociology, Anthropology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  3. FOREWORD: Deaf Loss
    (pp. ix-xii)
    ANDREW SOLOMON

    When I was asked to research Deaf culture for theNew York Timesin 1994, I had no idea that there was such a thing. My first forays to deaf clubs, theaters, and households astonished me. I was soon convinced that there was indeed a Deaf culture, organized around the shared use of American Sign Language (ASL). I came to appreciate that culture’s nuances, to understand that not all deaf people were Deaf but that many nonetheless had a social life and sense of community with other deaf people. I learned a few signs and considered how different they were...

  4. EDITORS’ NOTE ON TERMINOLOGY
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  5. DEAF GAIN: An Introduction
    (pp. xv-xlii)
    H-DIRKSEN L. BAUMAN and JOSEPH J. MURRAY

    Aaron Williamson began to lose his hearing at the age of seven. Having spent the rest of his childhood in visits to audiologists, he now wonders, “Why had all the doctors told me that I was losing my hearing, and not a single one told me that I was gaining my deafness?”¹ This is, to be sure, not a common question. Common sense tells us thatdeafis defined by the loss of hearing. A visit to any dictionary confirms that there is no way to conceive of deafness other than through the loss of the auditory sense. Yet this...

  6. I. PHILOSOPHICAL GAINS
    • 1 ARMCHAIRS AND STARES: On the Privation of Deafness
      (pp. 3-22)
      TERESA BLANKMEYER BURKE

      It is a truism that one can lose only what one already possesses. Hearing people unaccustomed to the signing Deaf world are prone to conflation: they confuse what it is like to be a deaf person with what it would be like tobecomedeaf. Yet these are different experiences. Becoming deaf, or the loss of hearing, is distinct from a lack of hearing, which is aprivation,or absence.

      As a Deaf philosopher who writes about bioethics and the signing Deaf community, I am often struck by the divide between accounts of what it is to be a Deaf...

    • 2 IDENTIFYING THE “ABLE” IN A VARI-ABLE WORLD: Two Lessons
      (pp. 23-36)
      JAMES TABERY

      The 2008 U.K. Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act (HFEA) demands, “Persons or embryos that are known to have a gene, chromosome or mitochondrian abnormality involving a significant risk that a person with the abnormality will have or develop (a) a serious physical or mental disability, (b) a serious illness, or (c) any other serious medical condition, must not be preferred to those that are not known to have such an abnormality.”¹ Although Deafness was not explicitly listed as an abnormality in the bill (in large part because of an outcry from the Deaf community), it was clear that deafness was...

    • 3 THE CASE FOR DEAF LEGAL THEORY THROUGH THE LENS OF DEAF GAIN
      (pp. 37-62)
      ALISON BRYAN and STEVE EMERY

      Baroness Deech made the remark quoted in the epigraph during the Second Reading in the United Kingdom’s House of Lords in the passage of what is now the 2008 Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act (HFEA).¹ It is how this act was proposed, consulted upon, and debated that we seek to examine in this chapter; in addition, we want to critically evaluate how the law seeks to frame Deaf people, and ultimately their status within society.

      Underneath any lawmaking or legal interpretation lie legal theory and philosophical ideas, the field of study known as jurisprudence. Through the study of legal theory,...

  7. II. LANGUAGE GAINS
    • 4 THREE REVOLUTIONS: Language, Culture, and Biology
      (pp. 65-76)
      LAURA-ANN PETITTO

      Among the most daunting words in the English language has to be the wordbut. Though just a teeny-tiny runt of a word when up against the likes of such words astruth, justice, tolerance,anddiversity, it has a power that can nonetheless arrest, derail, and alter personal history. Few mere mortals among us have escaped the dangling agony at the cliff of “I love you, but . . .” or have avoided the late-night despair when our child finally phones home sheepishly saying, “I would have come home on time, but . . .”—and so on and...

    • 5 DEAF GAIN IN EVOLUTIONARY PERSPECTIVE
      (pp. 77-94)
      DAVID ARMSTRONG

      One approach to assessing Deaf Gain is to ask what the Deaf experience has contributed to the sum total of human knowledge. That is, what benefit has the Deaf experience conferred on humanity in general, as opposed to deaf people in particular? This chapter will approach the question from the perspective of human evolution, and it will follow two separate but ultimately related threads. The first thread is probably familiar to most readers of this book; it concerns the contribution that study of human signed languages has made to the study of human evolution in general and the evolution of...

    • 6 DEAF GAINS IN THE STUDY OF BILINGUALISM AND BILINGUAL EDUCATION
      (pp. 95-111)
      OFELIA GARCÍA and DEBRA COLE

      What does the study of bilingualism and bilingual education gain from Deaf bilingualism and Deaf bilingual education? What does the “languaging” of the Deaf teach all of us about language practices, and especially about the bilingual education of language minorities as well as majorities? What can scholars of bilingualism gain from understanding deafness as an expression of linguistic diversity? What are the gains in understanding bilingualism for the hearing when looking at Deaf bilingualism? This chapter describes how the interactions of a hearing professor (García) and a Deaf doctoral student (Cole) have reshaped the way in which we think about...

    • 7 WHAT WE LEARNED FROM SIGN LANGUAGES WHEN WE STOPPED HAVING TO DEFEND THEM
      (pp. 112-130)
      CINDEE CALTON

      George Veditz, the seventh president of the National Association of the Deaf, proclaimed sign language to be “the noblest gift God has given to deaf people.”¹ And certainly Deaf people have gained and continue to gain enormously from their use of sign languages. However, Deaf people are not the only people to gain from the presence of sign languages. This chapter will expand on H-Dirksen Bauman and Joseph Murray’s concept of Deaf Gain with respect to the study of sign languages.² Specifically, I argue that the study of sign languages is helping to transform our understanding of the very nature...

  8. III. LANGUAGE GAINS IN ACTION
    • 8 ADVANTAGES OF LEARNING A SIGNED LANGUAGE
      (pp. 133-145)
      PETER C. HAUSER and GEO KARTHEISER

      Pierre Desloges wrote in 1779, in the first book known to be published by a deaf person, that he could not understand why everyone did not learn a signed language, given all the apparent benefits of learning one.¹ At the same time, French philosopher Étienne Condillac also suggested teaching sign not only to deaf children but also to hearing children.² However, the cognitive advantages of learning a signed language were not documented until the late twentieth century, partially because it was not until the 1960s when scholars began to accept that signed languages are natural languages. It all started when...

    • 9 BABY SIGN AS DEAF GAIN
      (pp. 146-158)
      KRISTIN SNODDON

      So-called baby-sign programs for hearing infants and their parents are one of the most widely known and lucrative examples of Deaf Gain. Young hearing children who are instructed in signed language show enhanced language and emergent-literacy learning. Recently, the American Academy of Pediatrics stated in its informational materials for new parents that “infant sign language really does deliver on its promise of improved communication.”¹ Baby-sign advocates who claim that young children can communicate with signed language or gesture at an earlier age than they can communicate with spoken language often focus on the goal of lessening frustration for infants who...

    • 10 MANUAL SIGNS AND GESTURES OF THE INUIT OF BAFFIN ISLAND: Observations during the Three Voyages Led by Martin Frobisher
      (pp. 159-181)
      CLARA SHERLEY-APPEL and JOHN D. BONVILLIAN

      The sixteenth century was a period of significant exploration and global expansion by European powers. Following Christopher Columbus’s “discovery” of the New World, explorers from Spain, Portugal, France, Italy, the Netherlands, and England added much to what Europeans knew about the world’s geography. Early expeditions by the English put them in contact with the Atlantic coast of North America. These expeditions failed to result either in the establishment of permanent colonies or in the development of profitable trade with the native inhabitants. In the latter half of the sixteenth century, the lure of a British-controlled trade route to Asia helped...

    • 11 BULWER’S SPEAKING HANDS: Deafness and Rhetoric
      (pp. 182-190)
      JENNIFER NELSON

      Gesture and eloquence, mind and body: for John Bulwer, rhetorician, these things are intertwined through physical, manual, bodily movements. Bulwer’s preoccupation with the body and its movements has caused a modern critic to humorously dub him a seventeenth-century muscleman.¹ Muscles and their motions do abound in Bulwer’s works; his 1644ChirologiaandChironomiadeal with the many expressive gestures that may be used in public speaking and that can be sculpted to an art.² As can be seen on its title page,Chirologiafocuses on the various natural expressions of the hands and their meanings—“pronunciation”—andChironomiafocuses on...

  9. IV. SENSORY GAINS
    • 12 SEEING THE WORLD THROUGH DEAF EYES
      (pp. 193-210)
      MATTHEW DYE

      In December 2012, theNew York Timesran a story about deaf police officers in the Mexican city of Oaxaca.¹ These officers were employed to work in the command room, monitoring closed-circuit-television cameras for suspicious activity. Although the reason for their employment was initially to read lips on video that had no audio, the article suggested that the deaf officers’ suitability for the task stemmed from heightened visual attention and their not being distracted by auditory noise in the command room—phones ringing, police-radio chatter, and so forth. Indeed, many deaf people report heightened abilities in the visual modality. On...

    • 13 A MAGIC TOUCH: Deaf Gain and the Benefits of Tactile Sensation
      (pp. 211-232)
      DONNA JO NAPOLI

      In this chapter I argue that tactile senses are important in many ways. They play a role in communication, in physical development, and in the formation of a healthy psychosocial self. Tactile senses contribute to our overall cognitive awareness and intelligence, and they are now used in a variety of career paths, including teaching, medicine, and creating virtual-reality telecommunication systems, to name a few. So, strong tactile sensitivity is of great benefit to the individual.

      This fact matters in a volume on Deaf Gain. When a particular sense is absent, changes in the brain allow better use of those senses...

    • 14 SENSES AND CULTURE: Exploring Sensory Orientations
      (pp. 233-254)
      BENJAMIN BAHAN

      Approximately fifteen years ago, I interviewed a Deaf man from the Zambezi River basin in southern Africa about his experiences growing up in a small town. The nearest city could be reached only by a walk through the jungle. If I had to walk through a jungle, I’d stop intermittently to check my surroundings for lions and other animals. I asked, “Did you often stop and check your surroundings while passing through the jungle?” He said, “Not really, no, because I can smell danger.”

      I found that a difficult concept to grasp. I thought about the environment I had grown...

    • 15 THE DEAF GAIN OF WLADISLAV ZEITLIN: Jewish Scientist and Inventor
      (pp. 255-268)
      MARK ZAUROV

      As fundamentally visual people, Deaf inventors have a different approach to the world that surrounds them than their hearing colleagues. This visuality consequently defines their inventive creativity at the service of everyone—Deaf and hearing. Precisely because he was Deaf, Wladislav Zeitlin had a drive to invent and to construct a device that would respond to his dominant sense of perception and that would also satisfy other Deaf people: television. At the same time, he was very well aware that this new technology would offer extremely diverse possibilities for usage in various technical fields.¹ Around 1922, at a time when...

    • 16 THE HIDDEN GAIN: A New Lens of Research with d/Deaf Children and Adults
      (pp. 269-282)
      HILARY SUTHERLAND and KATHERINE D. ROGERS

      This chapter explores how elements of research, including research questions, study design, data collection and data analysis, could be carried out with the aim of increasing understanding of Deaf Gain. The development of “visually reliant tools” will be used as an example of eliciting responses from Deaf children and adults. The authors, Hilary Sutherland and Katherine Rogers, have been Deaf since birth and are experienced researchers. Much of their work involves the perspectives of the Deaf community and d/Deaf children and their families, which may include identifying some elements of their developing positive outlooks on their lives. Too often, d/Deaf...

  10. V. SOCIAL GAINS
    • 17 DEAF GAIN AND SHARED SIGNING COMMUNITIES
      (pp. 285-305)
      ANNELIES KUSTERS

      In their introduction to the Deaf Gain concept, H-Dirksen Bauman and Joseph Murray describe Deaf Gain as the opposite of hearing loss, “reframing deafness, not as a lack, but as a form of human diversity capable of making vital contributions to the greater good of society.”¹ They refer to Teresa Blankmeyer Burke, who has distinguished the two notions implicit in this statement (diversity and contributions) as intrinsic and extrinsic values of deaf people, their communities, and their languages.² The termDeaf Gainwas coined to highlight these very values. Whether these notions are represented in commonsensical discourses in wider society...

    • 18 GAINFUL EMPLOYMENT: Historical Examples from Akron, Ohio
      (pp. 306-320)
      KATI MORTON

      The exploration of the emerging theory of Deaf Gain is taking place in the twenty-first century, yet different but compelling Deaf Gain arguments were made historically in early twentieth-century newspapers. Articulated by H-Dirksen Bauman and Joseph Murray, Deaf Gain reframes being deaf from a loss to a gain and suggests multiple ways in which deaf people contribute to the diversity of the world.¹ Historical discussions of this concept are seen in deaf residential-school newspapers, known collectively as the Little Paper Family (LPFs), as well as in general newspapers such as theNew York Timesand theWashington Post. Although there...

    • 19 EFFECTIVE DEAF ACTION IN THE DEAF COMMUNITY IN URUGUAY
      (pp. 321-340)
      ELIZABETH M. LOCKWOOD

      Most Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing individuals in Latin America and the Caribbean are denied access to most sectors of society, stemming from the limited availability of trained and qualified sign-language interpreters; ineffective or unenforced deaf-related programs, policies, and laws; inaccessible telecommunication services; the absence of bilingual education; inadequate employment opportunities; no official recognition of a distinct language and culture; and the widespread lack of knowledge and awareness about the situation of deaf people. As a result, Deaf and Hard-of- Hearing persons in this region are not able to enjoy basic human rights. Despite significant barriers and the critical need for global...

    • 20 DEAF GAINS IN BRAZIL: Linguistic Policies and Network Establishment
      (pp. 341-355)
      RONICE MÜLLER DE QUADROS, KARIN STROBEL and MARA LÚCIA MASUTTI

      This chapter aims to present several effective gains that Deaf people have achieved in Brazil following the approval of Decree 5626 in December 2005, which regulates the Brazilian Sign Language Federal Law (Libras Law 10.436 of April 2002). It will also set out the experiences and challenges confronted by the Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina (UFSC) and the Instituto Federal de Santa Catarina (IFSC) regarding the support given by these legal documents. These institutions encourage Deaf empowerment and all other cultural forms of expression by the Deaf community, and promote the deconstruction of logophonocentric paradigms.¹ The results of these actions...

    • 21 DEAF GAIN: Beyond Deaf Culture
      (pp. 356-372)
      IRENE W. LEIGH, DONNA A. MORERE and CAROLINE KOBEK PEZZAROSSI

      Normalcy has been idealized as the standard, as an aspirational goal for people, thereby implying that those individuals who do not meet that standard belong on the fringes of society. However, for decades, scholars have argued about the meaning of normalcy and the value of diversity. There are writings that zero in on whether diversity can be a valued attribute. For example, John Harris extols the importance of enhancing evolution to minimize undesirable attributes or maximize desirable attributes.¹ In contrast, others, such as Christopher Krentz and Michael Sandel, argue against the notion of genetic engineering designed to dilute the variability...

  11. VI. CREATIVE GAINS
    • 22 DEAFSPACE: An Architecture toward a More Livable and Sustainable World
      (pp. 375-401)
      HANSEL BAUMAN

      The desire to take possession of space is deeply embedded in Deaf culture. Throughout history Deaf people have “developed this desire to form their own commonwealth where they would be in control of their lives—politically, economically and educationally.”¹ The vision of a Deaf state proposed by John Flournoy in 1850 and the more recently proposed new town Laurent, South Dakota, designed specifically for sign-language users, are just two examples of the often-expressed phrase “in search of a place of our own.” Yet although Deaf people’s appreciation of place may be profound, it is not particularly comfortable. According to Carol...

    • 23 CO-DESIGN FROM DIVERGENT THINKING
      (pp. 402-420)
      ANTTI RAIKE, SUVI PYLVÄNEN and PÄIVI RAINÒ

      In this chapter, we seek to deepen the meaning and value of “Deaf Gain” within a co-design process. We will use the termco-designto cover co-design, participatory design, and some methodologies of user-centered design, although we are aware of the differences between these various methodologies in present design research. Divergent thinking is an integral process in creativity and innovative knowledge building, and it can include or amplify positive Deaf Gain impacts intentionally or by serendipity. We will present findings from two co-design Web-site projects made at the Aalto University in collaboration with Finnish Deaf communities. Our case studies are...

    • 24 THE HEARING LINE: How Literature Gains from Deaf People
      (pp. 421-435)
      CHRISTOPHER KRENTZ

      What do we call the invisible gap that exists between deaf and hearing people? In my bookWriting Deafness(2007), I proposed the phrase “the hearing line” (signed HEAR LINE), which may seem awkward at first.¹ I intended to parallel W. E. B. Du Bois’s famous metaphor of the color line, which he used to describe the division that separates white and black people in the United States. “The problem of the Twentieth Century is the problem of the color line,” Du Bois proclaims at the start of his bookThe Souls of Black Folk(1903), effectively calling on people...

    • 25 DEAF MUSIC: Embodying Language and Rhythm
      (pp. 436-456)
      SUMMER LOEFFLER

      It has been observed that there is “no culture known to man, no single civilization of the past, that does not have its own body of music.”¹ Definitions of music are constructed around the central property of possessing sound, raising the question of whether Deaf culture is the only culture that does not use aural music for expressing cultural ideas.² The notion of a culturally Deaf music raises a provocative question: must musicrequirehearing? If so, what is the role of Deaf people in the world of music? Or better yet, what will the musical world gain from Deaf...

    • 26 DEAF GAIN AND CREATIVITY IN SIGNED LITERATURE
      (pp. 457-477)
      RACHEL SUTTON-SPENCE

      In her poem “Language for the Eye,” Dorothy Miles highlights how sign-language poets use their bodies to present powerful visual images. Seeing and understanding how “the word becomes the picture” through a language of the eye is a major Deaf Gain to everyone who has experienced the limitations of spoken and written forms of language for creating images in poetry.¹ H-Dirksen Bauman and Joseph Murray have observed that the “unique visual and spatial properties of sign language make it a particularly rich medium for poetic image and metaphor.”² Poets working with spoken and written forms of language use words to...

    • 27 DEAF GAIN AND THE CREATIVE ARTS: Interviews with Deaf Artists
      (pp. 478-491)
      JENNIFER GRINDER WITTEBORG

      Twelve Deaf artists were interviewed for this chapter, many of whom wear different artistic “hats” in various fields: Wayne Betts Jr. (filmmaker); Peter Cook (storyteller and video producer); Patti Durr (filmmaker, playwright, and mixedmedia artist); Monique Holt (actor, translator, director, and writer); Camille Jeter-Lorello (actor, storyteller, and translator); Jonathan Kovacs (actor); Michelle McAuliffe (multimedia artist); Nancy Rourke (Deaf View/Image Art [De’VIA] artist); Christine Parrotte (multimedia artist and Web designer); Jon Savage (actor, filmmaker, and pop artist); Ethan Sinnott (director, scenic designer, translator, and professor); and Louise Stern (artist, writer, performer, and playwright). The artists were asked two questions. Some wrote...

  12. AFTERWORD. Implications of Deaf Gain: Linguistic Human Rights for Deaf Citizens
    (pp. 492-502)
    TOVE SKUTNABB-KANGAS

    Reading this revolutionary book packed with new information that will change many people’s lives and ways of thinking has been a major and wonderful learning and reflecting experience, as I am sure it will be for thousands of others. Most of us hearing people have been used to reading mainly about problematic aspects of being deaf and the struggles Deaf people have waged trying to get a voice and trying to get at least some basic rights. Then came articles and books in which Deaf people were/are consciously trying to “find themselves,” demanding the right to define themselves and their...

  13. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. 503-503)
  14. CONTRIBUTORS
    (pp. 504-512)
  15. INDEX
    (pp. 513-521)