Gallaudet University Press

6:3 Thursday, March 18, 2004


One Woman's Experience as the
Only Deaf Child in Her School

To feature contemporary autobiographies and biographies about living deaf and hard of hearing people, the Press introduces a new series entitled Deaf Lives edited by Brenda Jo Brueggemann. Alone in the Mainstream: A Deaf Woman Remembers Public School by Gina A. Oliva inaugurates the Deaf Lives series. In this introductory volume, Brueggemann, Professor of English at Ohio Sate University, Columbus, OH, notes that, “Oliva has successfully blended autobiography and biography in creating an energized and sensitive narrative that weaves her own experiences as a (then ‘hard of hearing’) young solitary (Oliva’s term for being the only deaf child in the entire school) in public school alongside the stories of many other solitaries, who were also ‘mainstreamed.’ She has gathered these stories as “data” in a biographical study she conducted and called ‘The Solitary Mainstream Project.’”

Matching her findings from The Solitary Mainstream Project with current research on deaf students in public schools, Oliva confirmed that hearing teachers are ill-prepared to teach deaf pupils, they don’t know much about hearing loss, and they frequently underestimate deaf children. Additionally, Oliva’s commentary about ways to make the “solitary mainstreamed” lives of young deaf and hard of hearing kids less solitary, more socially successful, more well-rounded, “makes Alone in the Mainstream valuable in at least two ways,” states Brueggemann. “First, because of its format, this text addresses a wide audience and second, it serves as an ideal model for the Deaf Lives series itself.”

Oliva asks, “So what is daily life really like for deaf or hard of hearing children who grow up in a hearing neighborhood and attend the same schools as everyone else? How do hearing adults and children in neighborhood schools, most having never experienced life with a hearing loss, behave toward such a child? What does their behavior suggest about their attitudes toward d/Deaf people?” Read A Glimpse at Everyday Life, and order Alone in the Mainstream at your exclusive subscriber discount of 20% off the regular price.

Bilingualism and Identity in Deaf Communities, edited by Melanie Metzger, was recently praised in APA Review of Books. The reviewer commends the sixth entry in the Sociolinguistics in Deaf Communities series by writing, “This volume and, indeed, the entire series help further our understanding of deafness and of deaf individuals, deaf culture, and deaf communities. Together, the articles inform our perception of the deaf and signal a growing emphasis on deaf children as bilinguals in keeping with the series’ themes. What is less obvious, although equally important, is that the articles also further our understanding of all individuals, cultures, and communities, whatever communication system is used.” Read the full review and order Bilingualism and Identity in Deaf Communities. Also, read an excerpt from part one, Name Signs and Identity in New Zealand by Rachel Locker McKee and David McKee, a study of how name signs reveal the self-perceptions of members of a Deaf community.

The Second International Deaf Academics and Researchers Conference took place on February 19-21, at the Kellogg Conference Hotel. Inspired by the first Deaf Academics Conference held March 2002, in Austin, TX, a planning committee co-chaired by Gallaudet faculty members Derek Braun and Caroline Solomon organized a compelling series of presentations and panels to discuss both current research and the roles of Deaf scholars in the academic world and in their respective Deaf communities.

Sponsored by Gallaudet University Press Institute and the Gallaudet Research Center, the conference featured two keynote speakers — Harry G. Lang, Professor, Center for Research, Teaching, and Learning at the National Technical Institute for the Deaf in Rochester, NY; and Helga Stevens, Director of the European Union of the Deaf in Brussels, Belgium. Other presentations at the conference traversed a broad spectrum of research and issues critical to Deaf researchers and Deaf communities. Several panels offered stimulating discourse on diverse subjects, ranging from how to obtain research grants to assessing job search issues, creating effective partnerships with interpreters, and conducting research on the auditory system. The final presentations explored Deaf communities on a global scale and the political participation of Deaf people. Read the entire overview of the conference here.

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