Through Deaf Eyes

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ITP 120 Intro to Deaf Culture
Professor McCray
July 13, 2008

Through Deaf Eyes
PBS 2008

Through Deaf Eyes is a film outlining deaf history and deaf culture. The movie touches on many key milestones in deaf American’s lives including: community interactions, education, recreation and work. While we have been learning much on deaf history, I was fascinated to hear the many obstacles deaf people had to overcome to reach where they are today. I am one to always route for the underdog and to me the deaf community’s history is a wonderful example of a minority persevering to achieve set goals and dreams. This movie helped me realize that while obstacles for modern deaf people are numerous, in the past they were almost unbearable. Nativism is the practice of discriminating against immigrants. The deaf community was viewed as a foreign culture, just as any other minority group in the late 1790s they were pressured to assimilate; meaning communicate orally. This meant more time was spent teaching the deaf how to speak rather than the normal curriculum. Because of this most deaf students fell behind. I personally had a very similar situation to the deaf children during my first years of school. When I entered first grade I had trouble pronouncing some sounds. My teacher encouraged my mother to enroll me into a speech therapy class. Everyday I was pulled out of my normal homeroom and taken to speech therapy therefore missing much of what was being taught in the normal classroom. After a semester I no longer pronounced “hamburger” as “hambuger” but instead was failing first grade. During this time I was very frustrated with my inability to keep up with the rest of my class and eventually stopped trying and transformed from the quiet girl with the lisp to the class clown. I felt as if I was being spread too thin and despite my best efforts I couldn’t succeed. I can imagine that the deaf children must have felt much of the same way...
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