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3:4 Friday, April 20, 2001

And a Child Shall Lead Them

Professor of Social Work Interviews Deaf Children
to Learn Their Thoughts, Fears, and Hopes

Martha Sheridan, an Assistant Professor in the Department of Social Work at Gallaudet University, knew all about the negative stereotypes attached to deaf children when she set out to interview the subjects of her groundbreaking study, Inner Lives of Deaf Children: Interviews and Analysis. Deaf and hard of hearing children, so the story goes, traditionally suffer from low self-esteem and underdeveloped interpersonal skills, leading lives primarily defined by negative experiences. What Sheridan discovered, however, effectively banishes these prejudiced misconceptions once and for all.

Danny, Angie, Joe, Alex, Lisa, Mary, and Pat--the children Sheridan spoke to while conducting her research--revealed lives full of imagination and optimism, by and large perfectly identical to those of their hearing peers. "While the research presented in this book showed that some uncomfortable experiences and relationships do exist," the author writes, "it is important to recognize these children were mostly happy and had many affirming experiences, comfortable relationships, confident images of their future, and positive pathways for transcending whatever unpleasant experiences arise."

Inner Lives of Deaf Children provides a comprehensive look at how a variety of educational environments, communication systems, and family situations affect the lives of deaf and hard of hearing children. Writing as a social worker and as a deaf woman who grew up in a predominantly hearing family, Sheridan offers a unique understanding of the children she worked with and an incisive analysis of the developmental challenges that remain for these children today. Read an excerpt from chapter eight "Lisa" and take advantage of your exclusive 20% subscriber discount when you order Inner Lives of Deaf Children.

Orchid of the Bayou: A Deaf Woman Faces Blindness, by Cathryn Carroll and Catherine Hoffpauir Fischer, received considerable praise in the February 19th issue of Publishers Weekly: "Fischer maintains a courageous attitude in dealing with increasing vision loss that will probably result in total blindness. Her recollections [are] those of a resolute and complex woman." Read the complete review and order Orchid of the Bayou.

The Journal of American History highlighted Robert Buchanan's Illusions of Equality: Deaf Americans in School and Factory, 1850-1950 in its March 2001 issue. "Robert Buchanan's Illusions of Equality exemplifies the second-wave of Deaf historiography in several ways," writes Paul K. Longmore of San Francisco State University. "It shows the dominant position of oralists in early-twentieth-century Deaf education but makes clear that the Deaf community vigilantly and vigorously sought to influence that schooling. Deaf leaders not only challenged the claims of oralist success but tried to safeguard the jobs of the declining numbers of Deaf instructors at the state residential schools, to promote improvements in vocatioanal instruction, and to facilitate job placement of male graduates." Longmore terms Buchanan's history of Deaf labor the book's "most distinctive contribution." He concludes: "[T]his book and recent scholarship are building on the initial literature, deepening Deaf historical analysis and making it more critical and more complex." Read the complete review and an excerpt from chapter six and order Illusions of Equality.

Cynthia Peters' Deaf American Literature: From Carnival to the Canon garnered the notice of the Deaf History International Newsletter in its Spring 2001 edition. "[Deaf American Literature] is an engaging and intriguing book to read," writes Paige F. Schumaker of Gallaudet University. "The book should get you thinking about the interplay of your sign language and your national spoken language." Read an excerpt from chapter three and order Deaf American Literature.


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