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Inner Lives of Deaf Children Interviews and Analysis

Martha Sheridan

From Chapter Eight: "Lisa"

Everything was all set for our first visit to Lisa�s home. I called her mother earlier in the day to confirm our appointment. I arrived at Lisa�s house with my camcorder, tripod, felt markers, colored pencils, and paper. Lisa had been expecting us but did not accompany her mom to the door to greet us when we arrived. Lisa�s mother showed us to the dining room, where she thought we could most comfortably conduct our interview. Since Lisa had not joined us yet, her mom went to fetch her while we set up the equipment. Marilyn, the interpreter, could hear Lisa and her mother talking in the background, although she could not quite understand Lisa�s responses.

Lisa�s mother returned and explained that although she was encouraging her daughter to come in and meet us, Lisa was not quite ready to do so. She explained that Lisa was afraid of the camera and afraid to communicate with people she did not know because she was concerned they will not understand her. I explained that I had met Lisa a couple of years earlier at a theater workshop and wondered if Lisa might remember me from that. Her mother went back to again encourage Lisa to come join us, as Marilyn and I continued to set up the room.

When we had finished, we went with Lisa�s mother to meet Lisa. As we turned around a corner from the dining room into the hall, Lisa just as quickly disappeared behind the wall in the den. We waited to give her some time to come out from hiding by herself while her mom encouraged her. Then we started through the kitchen into the den, and she slipped behind the walls in the next room, peeking around only occasionally to get a glimpse of us. Lisa has large brown eyes and long, curly, auburn hair. She is of average height, and her tanned complexion and strong physique give the impression that she is an active summer athlete. Her mother invited us to be seated, thinking Lisa would warm up and come out to meet us. I explained that Lisa did not have to do the interview if she didn�t want to, but her mother decided to give it some more effort, thinking that Lisa just needed a little time to warm up.

Lisa was profoundly deaf at birth from an unknown cause. At the time of the study, she was ten years old, was mainstreamed in a public school total communication program, and had Signed English skills. She later transferred to an oral-only program. Although Lisa�s family communicated orally with her, the mother shared with us that Lisa needed more help with her speech. She has no additional disabilities. Lisa�s mother and father and two sisters are hearing.

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