Alone in the
Mainstream: A Deaf Woman Remembers Public School
Deaf, But Definitely Not Dumb
The phrase deaf and dumb was used historically to mean "deaf and cannot speak." In the 1800s, even Deaf adults proudly referred to themselves as "deaf-mutes," and the word mute referred to their love for their native sign language. However, over time, the term dumb has come to connote stupid rather than mute, and thus the terminology has fallen in with racial slurs and gone the way of other politically incorrect descriptors. Regardless, two participants included this terminology in their responses. My guess is that the term is still tossed around today.
These are some of the stories told by sixty adults who were mainstreamed as solitaries. These stories prompted my own stories and will likely prompt more stories in any former or current solitary who reads them. They represent much about our lives in the hearing world. It is not to say that we do not have hearing family members and friends that are dear to us. It is just to say that we have had some pretty distressing experiences caused by a pervasive and longstanding ignorance.