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Sign Language Studies

American Annals of the Deaf

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I Fill This Small Space: Writings of a Deaf Activist

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I consider the education of the deaf a highly complicated, difficult and trying field. I feel that teachers of the deaf in all types of programs have a frustrating and enormously difficult job and that so many of them are unsung heroes and heroines. It, therefore, was strange to me that you felt I was belittling your type. I consider the teaching of speech and lipreading an indispensable part of a deaf student’s total development but I disagree with the extent and the way they are being used. It is ironical the way you feel about my banging you on the head with my “little teacher education messages.” No deaf persons run teacher training programs, few are in positions of authority, and yet if an adult deaf person who has experienced a lifetime of deafness dares to put his feelings and thoughts in words you resent it. Your resentment is so great that you threaten to quit our Association. You complain about the “manual slant” while, luckily you do not have to do any lipreading. I choose to call it a slant to reality especially when 73% of the spoken words cannot even be seen on the lips.

You mention the negative reaction to my article you received in your area. At the risk of sounding immodest, I would like to mention some positive reactions I received not only on a local and a state but on a national level. On e hearing day school teacher made reprints and mailed them out to parents of deaf children in her area. An administrator of a day school program decided to make it required reading for new teachers in her area. There were requests for reprints from a psychologist in the Midwest and from a school administrator. Another day school teacher liked it enough to ask for three reprints so that she could post it on her bulletin board, pass it around to other teachers and to parents. Most important of all, deaf persons themselves wrote or told me in person how great the article was. The National Association of the Deaf has decided to make the article part of their brochure on lipreading.

My articles should stand or fall by the analytical writings and rebuttals or by the evaluations of my fellow teachers or other professionals. The reader should be given an opportunity to judge, weigh and sift. The deaf student, in the end, stands to benefit.

Lawrence Newman

P.S. As an after thought and in view of your statement that you could not stand any more of my articles I am taking the liberty of quoting a hearing man from Des Moines, Iowa, a consultant for the deaf and hard of hearing, in regard to one of the articles that was to be printed in the FORUM:

. . . to comment on your article, “Reality Is Sometimes Funnier than Fiction.” It is one of the most humorous and yet touching articles I have ever read on the subject of what it means to be deaf. Although my parents are deaf and I have been around the deaf all my life, I have never before realized the full import of why my mother always has so much loose change in her pocketbook. Because your article provides such excellent insight into deafness, I have taken the liberty of reproducing it and sending it to our counselors in our district offices as an in-service training bulletin . . .

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