|The Deaf History Reader|
From the Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education
The Deaf History Reader is a compilation of essays that are informative, well researched, and enlightening. The book describes the underpinnings of events that contributed to the evolution of the Deaf community. It also provides a historical context on topics, such as sign language systems, as well as the founding of the American School for the Deaf in 1817.
Beginning with the first essay entitled “Genesis of a Community: The American Deaf Experience in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries” by Harry G. Lang to the concluding essay “The Chicago Mission for the Deaf ” by Kent R. Olney, the volume instructs and gives meaning to the extraordinary accomplishments of deaf persons. It details some of the obstacles that deaf people encountered while their community was evolving and provides testimony to their capacity to overcome those obstacles.
The essay by John Vickrey Van Cleve entitled “The Academic Integration of Deaf Children: A Historical Perspective” sheds light on an issue that remains controversial today. This essay details the beginnings of the mainstreaming movement and provides an insightful perspective to many of the concerns that continue to exist in the 21st century.
Because of the authors’ different areas of expertise, each is able to present information that will assist the reader in developing a comprehensive understanding of the beginnings of the Deaf community in colonial America. The authors also provide an important historical discussion on some of the individuals who influenced the education of the deaf and the hard of hearing. This is demonstrated in the essay “A Tale of Two Schools: The Indiana Institution and the Evansville Day School, 1879-1912” by Michael Reis. This essay reviews these contributions, not all of which were positive. The origins of the philosophical and communication divisions, which continue into contemporary times, are also documented in the essays.
I would recommend this book to teachers of the deaf, educators, and parents of deaf and hard-of-hearing children. The essays will enhance their understanding of the extraordinary contributions that led to the formation and cultural characteristics of the modern Deaf community. It is a history that should be honored and should be passed on to today’s deaf and hard-of-hearing students. As the head of a school for the deaf, I found it intriguing that many of the contemporary differences in opinion about approaches and communication date back to the 16th century.
John Vickrey Van Cleve is Professor Emeritus of History at Gallaudet University.
Print Edition: ISBN 978-1-56368-359-6, 6 x 9 paperback, 226 pages, 3 tables, 4 figures, 11 photographs
E-Book: ISBN 978-1-56368-403-6
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