By Carol Padden & Tom L. Humphries
This book was mainly focused on looking at Deaf culture of today and comparing it to the culture of the past, and what kinds of struggles deaf people had to endure to get where they are today. The two authors of this book are deaf; one was deaf her whole life and the other became deaf as a child. In my opinion, that was a major contributing factor to why it was so interesting. The reader gets a chance to travel through the history of the Deaf through words from those who have experienced it. It also had a positive impact because the authors let the readers know in the introduction that they are deaf and a brief history of themselves, which I think makes the book seem more personal and enjoyable. Personally, I enjoyed the book because I was not at all familiar with Deaf culture or the history behind it, so everything I read about was new to me. This book covered a variety of topics including children who grow up deaf, to adults who must adapt to living in a world that is mostly catered to the hearing. As the books explains, “Children are astute observers of the world - they are often “wrong” for the most interesting reasons and “right” for reasons we never expect. This quality makes them revealing theorists.” The authors examine the differences between signers who are deaf, and those who are hearing and have learned the language recently. I found it very interesting that those who have been signing for years can tell the difference between the two, just by watching for certain things such as subtle nonverbal hints and movements. It also looked at how children who are deaf in the present are treated much differently than those in the past. I found it incredible that deaf children only a few decades ago were not allowed to use American Sign Language in their classes because it was not considered a “language.” The book explains, “Generations of schoolchildren have been
Cited: Padden, C. & Humphries, T. (1988). Deaf in America: Voices from a Culture. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.