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Deaf Gain

Raising the Stakes for Human Diversity

2014

H-Dirksen L. Bauman and Joseph J. Murray, Editors
Foreword by Andrew Solomon
Afterword by Tove Skutnabb-Kangas

Deaf Gain

Understanding deafness not as a disability but as a benefit and vital aspect of humanity’s diversity

Through their in-depth articulation of Deaf Gain, the contributors to this pathbreaking volume approach deafness as a distinct way of being, one that opens perceptions, perspectives, and insights less common to the majority of hearing persons. By framing deafness in terms of its intellectual, creative, and cultural benefits, Deaf Gain recognizes physical and cognitive difference as vital to human diversity.

I don’t have Deaf Gain, but I am one of the fortunate hearing people who has been able to witness it, so I know something of what I’m missing. I believe that I am made richer by the simple fact of having witnessed the merit present in what most people still presume to be a deficit. This book elucidates that argument elegantly.

Andrew Solomon, from the Foreword

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 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 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 contributors to this pathbreaking volume approach deafness as a distinct way of being in the world, one that opens 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 Gain recognizes physical and cognitive difference as vital to 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; James Tabery, U of Utah; Jennifer Grinder Witteborg; Mark Zaurov.

Deaf Gain

H-Dirksen L. Bauman is professor of ASL and deaf studies at Gallaudet University. He is the editor of Open Your Eyes: Deaf Studies Talking (Minnesota, 2008) and coeditor of Signing the Body Poetic: Essays on American Sign Language Literature. He serves as executive editor of Deaf Studies Digital Journal and he wrote, codirected, and coproduced the documentary, Audism Unveiled.

Joseph J. Murray received his PhD in history from the University of Iowa and is associate professor of ASL and deaf studies at Gallaudet University.

Andrew Solomon is a National Book Award winner and an activist in LGBT rights, mental health, and the arts. He is the author of Far from the Tree: Parents, Children and the Search for Identity and The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression.

Tove Skutnabb-Kangas has written frequently on minority education, linguistic human rights, and the relationship between biodiversity and linguistic diversity.

Deaf Gain

I don’t have Deaf Gain, but I am one of the fortunate hearing people who has been able to witness it, so I know something of what I’m missing. I believe that I am made richer by the simple fact of having witnessed the merit present in what most people still presume to be a deficit. This book elucidates that argument elegantly.

Andrew Solomon, from the Foreword

Bauman and Murray. . . remind us that deafness is a part of, not apart from humanity.

Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education

The overwhelming approach is positive, optimistic, and even heroic. The concept of Deaf Gain turns on its head the usual idea that deafness should be defined through narratives of suffering and isolation. . . an excellent addition to the understanding of deafness and to the promotion of Deaf culture.

Medical Humanities

Deaf Gain

Contents

Foreword: Deaf Loss
Andrew Solomon

Deaf Gain: An Introduction
H-Dirksen L. Bauman and Joseph J. Murray

Editors’ Note on Terminology

I. Philosophical Gains
1. Armchairs and Stares: On the Privation of Deafness
Teresa Blankmeyer Burke
2. Identifying the “Able” in a Vari-able World: Two Lessons
James Tabery
3. The Case for Deaf Legal Theory through the Lens of Deaf Gain
Alison Bryan and Steve Emery

II. Language Gains
4. Three Revolutions: Language, Culture, and Biology
Laura-Ann Petitto
5. Deaf Gain in Evolutionary Perspective
David Armstrong
6. Deaf Gains in the Study of Bilingualism and Bilingual Education
Ofelia García and Debra Cole
7. What We Learned from Sign Languages When We Stopped Having to Defend Them
Cindee Calton

III. Language Gains in Action
8. Advantages of Learning a Signed Language
Peter C. Hauser and Geo Kartheiser
9. Baby Sign as Deaf Gain
Kristin Snoddon
10. Manual Signs and Gestures of the Inuit of Baffin Island: Observations during the Three Voyages Led by Martin Frobisher
Clara Sherley-Appel and John D. Bonvillian
11. Bulwer’s Speaking Hands: Deafness and Rhetoric
Jennifer Nelson

IV. Sensory Gains
12. Seeing the World through Deaf Eyes
Matthew Dye
13. A Magic Touch: Deaf Gain and the Benefits of Tactile Sensation
Donna Jo Napoli
14. Senses and Culture: Exploring Sensory Orientations
Benjamin Bahan
15. The Deaf Gain of Wladislav Zeitlin, Jewish Scientist and Inventor
Mark Zaurov
16. The Hidden Gain: A New Lens of Research with d/Deaf Children and Adults
Katherine D. Rogers and Hilary Sutherland

V. Social Gains
17. Deaf Gain and Shared Signing Communities
Annelies Kusters
18. Gainful Employment: Historical Examples from Akron, Ohio
Kati Morton
19. Effective Deaf Action in the Deaf Community in Uruguay
Elizabeth M. Lockwood
20. Deaf Gains in Brazil: Linguistic Policies and Network Establishment
Ronice Müller de Quadros, Karin Strobel, and Mara Lúcia Masutti
21. Deaf Gain: Beyond Deaf Culture
Irene W. Leigh, Donna A. Morere, and Caroline Kobek Pezzarossi

VI. Creative Gains
22. DeafSpace: An Architecture toward a More Livable and Sustainable World
Hansel Bauman
23. Co-Design from Divergent Thinking
Antti Raike, Suvi Pylvänen, and Päivi Rainò
24. The Hearing Line: How Literature Gains from Deaf People
Christopher Krentz
25. Deaf Music: Embodying Language and Rhythm
Summer Loeffler
26. Deaf Gain and Creativity in Signed Literature
Rachel Sutton-Spence
27. Deaf Gain and the Creative Arts: Interviews with Deaf Artists
Jennifer Grinder Witteborg

Afterword. Implications of Deaf Gain: Linguistic Human Rights for Deaf Citizens
Tove Skutnabb-Kangas

Acknowledgments
Contributors
Index