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From the 19th Century
There's an interesting compilation of articles by the headmaster of a school for the deaf in Derby, England. Anecdotes and Incidents of the Deaf and Dumb was published in 1883 with woodcuts, floral designs (as above),
and many tales from different countries---- quaint, informative, religious, or trite. You may read the whole collection via the link down below. Here are some articles of interest.
(P.57) A professor of Aesthetics at a Munich University, gave a series of lectures so "wearisome", that only five students attended, dwindling to just one. The professor approached this holdout, perhaps to thank him, but found him to be deaf and dumb. The poor fellow had been sneaking in to get out of the winter cold.
(P.101) "The Supreme Court of Maine recently ........ sustained the will of Horatio N. Foster ... deaf and dumb, 76 years old, who could neither read, write, nor use the manual alphabet. The will ... made by pantomime, devised 7,000 dollars. Only one similar case ... was ever tried in the United States, .... in North Carolina."
(P.63) The author writes of the 2-hand alphabet: "A good hand [signer] can go through the alphabet ten times in one minute.
I have [tested] .... several deaf mutes". His calculation concludes at 43 average words hand-spelled per minute.
(P.122) "The lot of the uneducated deaf and dumb in this world is a pitiable one, and their isolation is keenly felt. Often have we seen some of this portion of suffering humanity unable to plead for themselves, or tell their tale of woe or hardship."
(P.102) A Deaf and Dumb Lawyer.
"Mr. Lowe, a gentleman who has been deaf and dumb from his infancy, will, we understand, be called to the Bar by the Society of the Middle Temple on Saturday next. He has had a good legal education, and is considered very clever as a conveyancer. Brighton Gazette, Nov., 1829."
(P.39) A Deaf and Dumb Clergyman.
......."[It is believed] that this is the first instance of a deaf and dumb man ordained in the Church of England."
(P.112) "The Tenth Census Report of the U. S. A. for 1880 contains some interesting statistics of the deaf and dumb, who apparently show a considerable increase as compared with the whole population.
USA USA Deaf Deaf Mutes per
Census Year Population Mutes Population
Seventh 1850. 23,191,876 9,803 423 per million
Eighth 1860. 31,443,321 12,821 408 per million
Ninth 1870. 38,558,371 16,205 420 per million
Tenth 1880. 50,155,763 38,878 675 per million
Out of 38,878 [in the 10th sensus] there were 18,567 males and 15,311 females. The number of native deaf mutes was 30,507, and foreign 3,721. [Among them were] white, 30,661; coloured, 3,217, including 3 Chinese and 37 Indians."
(P. 118) "In all countries where statistics have been compiled, the number of male deaf mutes exceeds that of the female. In 1871 there were in Prussia 12,736 male and 10,843 female deaf mutes. In England and Wales in 1883 there were 4,408 male and 3,280 female deaf mutes. In Staffordshire 264 males and 217 females. In Leicestershire 64 males and 50 females. In Lincolnshire 112 males and 93 females. In Nottinghamshire 96 males and 75 females; and in Derbyshire 121 males and 88 females."
(P.79) "Deaf and Dumb Lady's Idea of Music"
"A lady who graduated from the Institution at New York some years ago, was questioned as to the capacity of the deaf to enjoy music; she wrote:
"I think all deaf persons have an idea more or less vague of musical sounds. It comes to all who cannot hear through the sense of touch.
The vibrations of the chords of a piano, when strongly played, are sufficient to produce real enjoyment by means of feeling to one who can touch the case merely. The soft, tremulous notes, even convey an impression through the nerves, similar, I fancy, to that which others obtain through the ear. But the real music for us comes through the eye.
The rippling of waves, the tremulous vibration of leaf and blossom and twig, all these sights make for us a harmony perhaps as perfect as the most finished orchestra."
A reporter tells of his visit to a Deaf community, in a long landmark article, "Defiantly Deaf", published in the New York Times Magazine in 1994. That's over 22 years ago, but it's still timely and interesting.
Read it all here:
Interesting historical expression of protest against the exclusion of Deaf persons from entertainment and employment. British, about 1920.
"Things You Should Never Say or Do to a Deaf Person"
Read The New York Times article (10/13/2012) about Mozzeria, a Deaf-owned and staffed restaurant in San Francisco's Bay area, via the link below ----and the link to YELP with over 500 reviews.
The Signs Restauant is also Deaf founded, owned, and staffed. It's in Toronto, near the University of Toronto/St. George. Read about it here:
We like their motto: "WHERE NOISE MEETS SILENCE"
A Deaf chef in California, Rasool Rahim, has created and marketed six Cajun County gourmet sauces, smokey-sweet to spicey pepper. Meet Rasool and read his story here:
Crepe Crazy is a deaf owned and run restaurant in Texas. Diners point to whatever they want to order, on menu charts. The signs say "Point...And ye shall receive". Here, a customer points to his order on a chart for the deaf clerk to transmit to the kitchen. Here's the story:
Read the full YELP review with over 180 customer comments, most 5-star:
NOT Deaf Capitalism
You must have heard of the scandal related to the Video Relay Services (VRS) a few years back. Alledgedly,
$50 million of US money was collectively stolen via the service, by 26 people in 7 firms across 9 states. These rogue firms created fake service calls that were paid for by the government, via public taxation expressly for this service. It was probably a follow-the-leader thing. In the national Deaf Community, everyone seems to know what everyone else is doing (with thanks to the video phone). There must have been quite a few whistle-blowers.
The VRS firms were paid by the government $390 per hour of accumulated relay calls. The alledged $50 million represents over a quarter million hours of calls. If that's actually the case, they'd have had to run fake calls (from radio broadcasts or whatever) into their computers 24/7. Do the math. It's probably exagggerated, or includes punitive penalties.
Most of the accused are Deaf and they abused something of great value to the Deaf and their hearing associates. In some sense, the accused are exceptional people: setting up and running a VRS business requires brains and risk, and is not an easy job. All we can do here is sadly shake our heads.
The severest sentence so far is 9 years imprisonment, $20 million restitution, and 3 years supervision after release. Sentencing is ongoing. More recent ones are for $7 million and $2.5 million with home-confinement or probation.
How are these multi-million dollar restitutions paid by individuals? Actually, they rarely are, unless the defendent wins the state lottery. They are given payment plans based on ability to pay with consideration for the wellbeing of dependents. For the most recent three persons sentenced, payment is less than $100 per month.
At that rate, even Methuslah (who lived 969 years) couldn't pay it off.
Follow the action here: http://vrsjustice.com/
More Naughty, Naughty--- OMG !!, $50 Million Collected So Far
This VRS hanky-panky was not limited to individuals. With much embarrassment, three corporations were hit with penalties for overbilling the government for various services related to the VRS (intentionally or by error):
AT&T, over $18 million
Sorenson Communications, over $15 million (Update **)
Purple Communications, almost $20 million (Update***)
If you add up all the penalties in this whole VRS matter, it stands around $80 million, which is quite a pile. So far, about $50 million has been collected by the government. A portion went to the TRS fund and the rest to the US Treasury.
** March 12014: Sorenson Communications filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, which may restore their videophone activities after reorganization.
***May, 2014: OMG!!! Purple Communications just got fined $11.9 million.
Time for Some Books
There are lots of books, about or related to d/Deafness. We'll offer some suggestions, starting with these. As you're the judge of what you'd enjoy, please first read a few of a book's good and bad Amazon reviews. (Easy: Type the title into www.Amazon.com, then click on "customer reviews", at top, next to the line of rating stars). Almost all the books we'll be mentioning are available in used condition for a few dollars from Amazon.
In This Sign is a classic novel of the Deaf life.
It runs forty years through the Great Depression and World War 2. It is complex, elegant, poignant, and depressing.
The classic statement of love in sign language is from this book:
The right hand, palm inward,
covers the left hand,
which rests upon the heart
Burn Down the Ground by Kambri Crews (2012)
This is a hearing girl's memoir of her mostly backwoods upbringing by Deaf parents ---not your average sweet mom and dad. In the story of this somewhat dysfunctional family, much focus is on the father, for whom the girl's love is evident. He's very independent, quite interesting, and in ways admirable ---but loses it all to a 20-year prison sentence for attempted murder (upon a girlfriend). It's well written, told with courage and humor.
I'll Scream Later by Marlee Matlin (2009)
Marlee Matlin is our country's best-known Deaf person (and for most Americans, the only one they heard of or remember). To some extent, she's an advocate and spokesperson for the Deaf community, its icon, and one of its treasures. If you know her only by that classic movie (as most know her) you'll find it worthwhile to know her through this honest memoir. It moves rather quickly from thing to thing, sometimes too quickly or with too much --- but so what ? --we suggest you read it.
A Child Sacrificed to the Deaf Community
by Tom Bertling (1994)
The title gives a strong (and depressing) idea of the contents. Although this book is twenty years old, it is to some extent, still timely. The residential schools and the world of the Deaf community aren't for every deaf child and this book debates that. It is a strongly opinionated, unusual book. The good and bad reviews on Amazon are worth reading first.
Deaf Sentence by David Lodge (2008)
This is a seriocomic novel about the declining life of a professor forced to retire by progressive deafness, and doesn't have much of a handle on the condition.
The author is a popular English novelist (this book is his 13th). He himself is a professor retired by deafness. There are funny anecdotes; one we liked much was the deaf character's comment about a potential mistress: if he heard what she was saying when he met her, he wouldn't have gotten involved. The effusive Amazon reviews are worth reviewing. .
The Feel of Silence by Bonnie Tucker (1995)
This memoir was written by a completely and early -deafened woman who became a law professor, and who had little to do with Deaf Culture until she was in her forties. Read the many positive Amazon and B&N reviews for a clear idea if it's a book you'll truly enjoy.
My Sense of Silence:
Memoirs of a Childhood with Deafness
by Leonard Davis (Illinois U. Press)
This is a detailed memoir by a hearing child raised by immigrand Deaf parents in a working class section of New York City's Bronx, in the 1950's.
Everything is there. A most enjoyable read.
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