By conducting interviews with seven deaf children, ages seven to ten, Martha Sheridan offers a fresh look at their private thoughts and feelings in this watershed book. Each child possesses a unique cultural background, and Sheridan communicated with each in his or her preferred method of communication. Her procedure remained consistent with each: In addition to standard questions, Sheridan asked each child to draw a picture based on his or her life, then tell a story about it. Next, she showed them magazine pictures and asked them to describe what they saw.
The results proved to be as varied as they were engaging. Angie, an adopted deaf girl who communicates in Signed English, expressed a desire to attend a hearing college when she grows up while also stating she hoped her own children will be deaf. Joe, an African-American, hard of hearing boy, drew pictures of deaf people who are teased in a public school, reflecting his own difficult experiences.
Sheridan calls upon her tenure as a social worker as well as her own experience as a deaf child growing up in a hearing family in analyzing her study’s results. She writes, “These children have strengths, they have positive experiences, and they enjoy positive relationships.” Inner Lives of Deaf Children will prove to be an enlightening read for parents and scholars alike.
Martha Sheridan is Associate Professor in the Department of Social Work at Gallaudet University.