Deaf Culture: Exploring Deaf Communities in the United States

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Excerpt

As a matter of disclosure as a reviewer, myself and another audiologist, Dr. James Phelan acted as consultants for information on audiology as a profession. Neither audiologist participated in the writing of the chapter, but served as a source of information on audiology to the authors.
SYNOPSIS: Deaf Culture: Exploring Deaf Communities in the United States targets an audience of Deaf Studies/Education students, American Sign Language and interpretation students, Deaf individuals, and professionals who work with the Deaf population. Chapters cover a broad range of information related to deafness as an identity and culture, past and present. The book, written by three authors with ties to the Deaf community, is direct and concise with 318 pages in total. This text is excellent for a glimpse into the worldview of those who identify with deafness as a cultural identity.
REVIEW:Deaf Culture: Exploring Deaf Communities in the United States is composed of 11 chapters written by three authors, Dr. Irene Leigh, Dr. Jean Andrews, and Dr. Raychelle Harris. The authors all have a background in Deaf culture within their chosen professions of Deaf psychology, Deaf education, and higher education in deaf studies/education and interpretation. At least one author, Dr. Harris, is Deaf and uses American Sign Language as her native language.
Chapters cover a range of information related to Deaf communities, causes of deafness, basic information on audiologists, and hearing technologies, the American Sign Language system, deaf education, Deaf culture, theories of cognition and learning in deaf children, deafness as an identity, Deaf relationships in a hearing world, assistive technologies and accessibility, Deaf representation in the arts and media, becoming an advocate, and career opportunities related to Deaf persons. The authors also share their predictions for Deaf culture in the future.
Overall, the text focuses on changes and growth within the Deaf culture with the acceptance of American Sign Language as a recognized language, rapid advancing technologies, and the influence of Internet. There is also information related to opportunities for those individuals who want to become professionally involved with Deaf culture. Additionally, the textbook offers a PluralPlus companion website that offers extra resources for instructors, readers, and students, including slide presentations, reading resource list, test banks, and so on.
CRITIQUE: The text is well-designed and easy-to-read. There are good illustrations, images, tables, thought-provoking questions, and personal stories. I would love to one day see a full color version of the text over the current black and white. And although multiple authors contributed to the writing, it reads as if from one voice, which makes it flow very nicely. The language is neither lofty or condescending, making it a good read for readers of all levels of education. The authors have done a nice job at demystifying the Deaf culture throughout the text.
The selection of online additional resources makes it a good choice for instructors in Deaf Studies, Deaf Education, Interpretation, American Sign Language, Psychology, Audiology, and other related fields. The extra student resources provided would be an excellent guide for students throughout their courses, either as required or recommended reading and activities.
The authors outstandingly directed the text toward their intended audience of Deaf Studies/Education and American Sign Language students. However, to gain a new perspective, it would be a good read for audiologists and other professionals who may automatically consider having hearing loss as a disabling condition. In this manner, they may gain new information to improve communication and counseling during professional interactions with Deaf persons.
Of note, while the author has provided some examples of the use of hearing technologies in the Deaf community, the discussion is limited.
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