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6:10 Monday, October 25, 2004

It's in the Genes

Researchers and Scholars Discuss Past,
Present, and Future of Genetics and Deafness

On April 2-4, 2003, historians, geneticists, and representatives of the disability community gathered at the Kellogg Conference Hotel at Gallaudet University, Washington, D.C., to participate in the Genetics, Disability and Deafness international conference, sponsored by the Gallaudet University Press Institute. Distinguished researchers and scholars discussed a wide range of scientific, historical, and ethical topics on genetics as related to disability and deafness.

Drawn from this seminal conference, the Press’s book, Genetics, Disability and Deafness, edited by John Vickrey Van Cleve, addresses these issues by bringing together essays from science and humanism, history and the present, to show the many ways that disability, deafness, and the new genetics can interact and what their interaction means for society. In the introduction, Van Cleve states that, “Disability theorists have argued since the late-twentieth century that disability is a social construct and that cultural and political decisions, rather than biological characteristics, restrict their full and complete participation in society.” Contrarily, “The attitude of the general, nondisabled public is different. In the popular imagination, disability ‘promises an unmistakable and noncontingent correspondence between biology and the self,’ as one author has noted. The even more radical view that biology is destiny is gaining adherents in the United States, fueled in part by the claims of evolutionary psychologists, who view individual realization and social interaction within a framework of supposed evolutionary selection of biologically determined behavioral traits.”

Van Cleve sums up his opening by declaring, “These essays are offered, then, as a way to provide context and meaning to a public discussion of difference—its past, how it should be dealt with in the future, and what the role of genetic counseling and genetic manipulation might be as society thinks about disability and deafness and the public and private choices that need to be made in this age of genomics.” You can read more about this intriguing topic in the first paper, “The Science of Human Nature and the Human Nature of Science,” by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Louis Menand. And, use your exclusive subscriber 20% discount when you order Genetics, Disability, and Deafness.

The Midwest Book Review published praise for Deaf Way II: An International Celebration in the October 2004 issue of its online magazine “Reviewer’s Bookwatch” In its entirety, it reads: “Deaf Way II: An International Celebration presents 250 full-color photographs with captions and brief essays that superbly capture a July 2002 event in which more than 9,700 deaf people from around the world met in Washington, D.C., to share arts, research, and languages in a cultural festival. An amazingly vivid portrayal of people enjoying and exchanging highlights of life, experience, and art, Deaf Way II is truly breathtaking, from its glamorous images of the ‘Thousand Hand Bodhisattva’ dance as portrayed by the China Disabled People’s Performing Arts Troupe to behind-the-scenes glimpses from the tireless individuals who worked so hard to make the gathering such a grand success. A treasury and wondrous giftbook that embraces a positive message of living life to the fullest.” You can order your copy here.

Language and the Law in Deaf Communities, edited by Ceil Lucas, garnered the following acclaim from the Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education in a recent review: “[This] is an absolutely outstanding book that is must reading for all attorneys and judges involved with deaf individuals in cases concerned with criminal law, school law, and disability law. It is equally important for educators and administrators in schools attended by disabled children, especially those who are deaf. In addition, deaf adults and parents of deaf children would be greatly helped by the information the authors provide.” Read the complete review here. The ninth volume in the Sociolinguistics in Deaf Communities series, Language and the Law spotlights the field of forensic linguistics and reveals how deaf people who use American Sign Language are at a distinct disadvantage in legal situations. Read more about these difficult experiences in chapter two, “Trampling Miranda: Interrogating Deaf Suspects,” and order Language and the Law.

The Gallaudet University Press Institute’s fourth international conference, Narrating Deaf Lives: Biography, Autobiography, and Documentary, will be held on November 3-5, 2004, at the Kellogg Conference Hotel at Gallaudet University, Washington, D.C., just one week away! Don’t miss this opportunity to join distinguished authors and scholars as they address various facets of narrative and deaf lives presented in a wide range of genres with concomitant analytical criticism and comment. You can register online or by contacting Wendy Grande at 202-651-5488. For more information about the conference, go to http://gupress.gallaudet.edu/gupiconference/index.html.


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