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Mixed (Deaf-with-Hearing) Marriages, Late 19th Century
An academician issued a 43 page treatise in 1887 on marriages of “deaf-mutes”. It expressed his disagreement with A.G. Bell’s belief that mixed marriages (like Bell‘s own), must be encouraged. By Bell, the need was to vastly reduce Deaf-to-Deaf unions and what he believed it produces: a growing "separate race” with a “foreign language” (ASL).
The author, Hiram Arms, estimated Deaf-to-Deaf marriages at 80 to 95% for the American Deaf.
For mixed marriages occurring within most of the remainder, he offered the following thoughts and observations on how they were generally perceived back then.
The majority of hearing persons marrying the Deaf are motivated to acquire property that the Deaf person may own, or be in line to inherit. Also to acquire higher social status if the Deaf mate possessed it.
In the case of a hearing female who is aged, widowed, or divorced
---(among other things then considered unappealing for her marriage
or remarriage)---- she would be much more likely to accept a Deaf husband from within her narrowed choices.
A hearing male would choose a Deaf wife because of her “greater or less timidity or effeminacy”. (Note that this is close to one of the reasons Samuel F.B. Morse gave for marrying a young Deaf woman. See our p. 2, left column).
For mixed marriages with no apparent self-serving motives, and where basic things are equal between the partners, “divorce has in many instances been the sequel”.
He suggests conditions for successful mixed marriage on his page 6.
Read it all here:
Which Type of Marriage is Happier: Deaf-to-Deaf or Mixed?
In 1898 the Volta Bureau published Edward Fay's Marriages of the Deaf in America, a 526 page whopper of verbosity and exhaustive statisics. It focuses mostly on the type of offspring (Deaf or hearing) in relation to various blood relationships of the union. Its Chapter 6 is a sort of afterthought saying
Deaf-to-Deaf marriages were happier and in that respect preferred to mixed marriages. You can read the first page of Chapter 6 below. Read the rest if you wish, at:
Note their quote from the scriptures:
Be ye not unequally yoked together.
The Deaf in Public
There’s a play and a film, basically similar. They are hour-long images of strangers we pass daily. Hearing people notice passerby and forget them immediately. Deaf people focus stronger on strangers passing through their space. It’s due to a need to be more aware of their environment without the sound cues.
The film is Street. It debuted at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City (ended 5/27/2013 but will surely tour the country). It was secretly filmed from a car by a mega-speed camera (the type that films a flying bullet), so it could be projected slowly to achieve slow motion smoothness. It drifts strangers past you in a way you’d notice, study, and remember individually, as in a dream. It has been described as "mesmerizing", "hypnotic", and "overwhelming".
We think it abstractly represents the Deaf experience in public. It comes with a music score, but is suitable enough without it.
The trailer can be seen here, though it's a poor example. You'd need to see the whole thing on a large screen. It’s power is in its extent and variety. Click on the video at this site (marked "Featured Media" down at the bottom) and PLEASE run it FULL SCREEN on your computer monitor:
Update April, 2016. Sorry, some clod took down the trailer video.
The Hour We Knew Nothing of Each Other is a German play that opened in Vienna in 1992 (and gets redone here and there). It showed passerby you’d see in any busy intersection, doing what passerby do. 33 actors represented, 450 different people. (That averages over 13 costume changes per actor). They come and go in various directions, in one long, flowing act ----with
no plot, no words, and only an occasional sound, like a bell.
We believe a Deaf viewer’s interest would be stronger, more personal
and varied, than that of others.
The "1,000-Hand Guan Lin" Dance by 20 Deaf Women of China
This mesmerizing dance originated in Beijing in 2008. It portrays the Chinese goddess Guan Lin. All 20 dancers are Deaf women. Synchronization is by cues: vibration, visual, and each girl blowing on the neck of the girl in front of her to trigger the next move.
The show has toured many countries and the money earned was for the benefit of disabled Chinese citizens. The photos below are real-life, not Photoshopped.
An Unusual Stage Production
It played only once in a Brooklyn park's outdoor theatre in 1984. It was Shakespeare's "The Tempest". Alonso, Sebastain, Trinculo, and Ariel were played by women instead of men. A blind actress played Miranda and a Deaf actor played Gonzalo, doing his lines in ASL with interpreter over-voice.
The Two-Hand Latin Alphabet
Please enjoy this 19th Century woodcut of the two-hand alphabet, below (as seen by the signer, rather than the observer). In many letters, the right hand is thought of as the pen (reversely for left-handed signers). Note that two letters (H and J) involve motion, and two letters (C and Q) are made with one hand. Only 11 letters (B,C,D,E,K,M,N,V,W,X, and Y) mock the actual shape. Pointing to the fingertips indicates the vowels (A, I, E, O, and U).
Of Interest - Back in 1980....................
....................The People's Almanac ( a best-selling book by Wallace & Wallechinsky) was going into a third edition. Readers of prior editions were invited to submit facts on various subjects for possible inclusion. Over 40 facts were received by 1980 for the Facts About The Deaf section. The group below came from various contributors.
Origin of Our One-Hand Alphabet Shapes
In Harlan Lane's book**, it is said that alphabet signs somewhat similar to what we use here today, were first published in the early 17th Century by a Franciscan monk. The monk attributed them to an earlier time, from St. Bonaventure (d.1274), shown at left, .
** When the Mind Hears by Harlan Lane
(Vintage, PB, 1989), p.87
Some of the monk's 22 handshapes are shown below. Each handsigned letter was the first letter of the prayer it signified (in Spanish). If you're dying to know which prayers they were, you can find out at this site (though you'll need to translate from Spanish):
A handshape was used to represent a prayer in certain circumstances. One too weak to recite the prayer, could instead simply display its handsign. They were used likewise by monks during required silence. It's apparent that some letter handshapes we use today originated from those designed or adapted by St. Bonaventure or his disciples.
Identical and similar shapes were used differently a quarter-century later by
Juan Pablo Bonet (d. 1633). He was a Spanish priest, soldier, language scholar, and creative teacher of deaf sons of Spanish nobles. (It was urgent to educate them and teach them to speak; otherwise they were out of their family's inheritance bloodline). Bonet used the handsigns to signify speech sounds for his deaf pupils. He was the next to publish illustrations (examples below) of the signed letters he used.
Many of these shapes were adapted into French sign language to spell words. They were then were brought to the USA by the French Deaf educator, Laurent Clerc, to use at the school he founded in Connecticut. The journey of these hand shapes from St. Bonaventure to the USA took something like 600 years.
Both eyes of this man......
.....had to be surgically removed because of infection, when he was an infant. Here, he is riding a bicycle in light traffic. He is making rapid clicking noises with his tongue as he rides, and is listening to the echoes. He can sense a flagpole from 15 feet away, and a car in front from 25 feet.
Also things on each side of him.
This process is "echo-perception", similar to that used by dolphins, whales, and bats. All hearing people have this ability but are unaware, as they have no reason to use it. It is not automatic; it has to be learned. Some blind people create the sounds by tapping their canes, others via an electronic sound pulser.
If you type "Daniel Kish" into your browser, several sites come up on this subject.
Echo-Perception in Bats
We are fascinated by the bat, some
with ears bigger than themselves, as at the left. Their phenomenal hearing can sense the flap of a moth's wing at a distance. Bats do have daytime eyesight, but “see” in darkness via an echo-perception system. The system uses ultrasound ---generated by complex flaps and muscles of their grotesque noses. It's like radar or sonar, but is a billion times more efficient, ounce for ounce, than anything man-made. Radar and sonar produce only blips and pings. A bat can “see” a single hair clearly, in total darkness, by ultrasound alone.
It transmits powerful scanning beams of mixed frequencies, as high as 1/8 million pulses per second, at over 100 dB. It shuts down each transmission momentarily to hear its echo, which can be as faint as a billionth of the transmission. It "sees" in 3D via a complex frequency modulation, using miniscule time differences for various tones to echo back.
Many hunt moths, among other things. Some moths can sense
a bat’s transmission, hair-triggering evasive contortions. Moths without this reflex are sure meals.
If you are drinking wine at home and see a moth flying nearby, run your finger over the dry edge of the glass to make it "sing". That high-pitched noise contains ultrasound, and the moth (if of the correct species) will be gone in a flash.
What fascinates us even more are certain moths. When sensing a bat’s transmission, they emit simple ultrasonic pulses of their own into the weak echo. That momentarily "blinds" the bat while the moth escapes. For others, the moth's transmission identifies it as a variety known by bats to be poisonous: "Eat me and you're dead". It is thought that some non-poisonous moths mimic this tactic for their protection. Wonder of wonders ---lowly moths transmitting ultrasound to blind, warn, and trick bats.
The bat's "sight" was first investigated In the 1790's by an Italian priest-scientist. The poor fellow had a fairly good idea but no way to prove it, because ultrasound was unknown back then. The first correct guess about the ultrasound, came 120 years later ----from the inventor of the machine gun, Hiram Maxim.
BTW, if you’ve been thinking of eating a bat
for lunch, you better not. Moses said so.
See Leviticus, 11:19.
Dashboards that Talk and Hear
You may remember when all cars had cranked windows. Also, big warning lights on the dashboard to warn of low oil pressure, dead generator, etc. Cranked windows are mostly gone, and most warning lights are now tiny illuminated icons. There are three dozen standard icons for car makers to choose from. As they are not easily noticed, a beeping sound (sometimes coded) calls attention to certain critical icons when they activate.
A deaf driver can't hear the beeping and needs to be very focused on the icons. For examples, in the case of oil pressure failure or overheating, warning time before the engine quits, is short.
Beeping will go the way of the crank window. Presently, on higher end cars, the icons are supplemented by a computer-generated female voice. E.g., “Door ajar!”, “Hand brake engaged”, etc. (To be sure it’s heard, the car’s audio system momentarily mutes). Voice devices are cheap to produce, and most cars will have talking dashboards within 10 years or so.
Coming too are FCW (forward collision warning), LDW (lane departure warning), and more. Those warnings by voice will be loud and startling. We don't yet know how effective the visual complements will be.
The Deaf Community must be vigilant against warning systems that become less and less vision-based. You don’t have to be a visionary to know that's coming. Certain commands spoken to the dashboard are already here. E.g., on our 2011 Honda SUV, you can adjust the inside temperature by telling the dashboard by voice what temperature you want.
Japan is in the forefront of all these "talking" ideas. That country is loaded with talking elevators and talking everything, and those things will be here sooner or later.
General Motors' Cadillac now offers warning signals that vibrate the driver's seat for inattentive drivers. Presently, it's an accessory. Jaguar will be offering a variation that (no kidding) taps the driver on the shoulder, by a mechanical device in the seat's backrest.
Those weren't created with any thought of a benefit to the deaf.
Many years ago the idea of vibrating the driver's seat was proposed to car manufacturers to complement auditory warnings for the deaf. As with every other thing of such nature, it went nowhere.
Waking Up in the Morning
Normal hearing is the only sense that doesn't completely fall asleep. ("Sleep learning" via a pillow microphone, capitalizes on this). Thus, an alarm clock is very effective in waking a hearing person.
Deaf people depend on a special alarm clock with a flashing light and/or bed vibrator. The most effective way to wake a deaf person (especially during an emergency), is with intermittent bed vibration (like continuous 4 seconds on, two seconds off).
Way back, deaf people made their own wake up gizmos from vibrating fish-tank pumps or darkroom solution vibrators, and timer devices. A not-uncommon method was to use a strong electric fan instead of a light or vibrator. It could be set up for a pleasant awakening, or a blast in the neck for a heavy sleeper.
Some hearing people consider a ringing or buzzing alarm clock irritating and opt to be awakened by music. There have been inventions here and there of waking by the strong scent of flowers or whatnot, (and if that works, it would of course work for deaf people as well).
A Japanese firm is working on such a clock that wakes by the scent of wasabi. That's the little bit of super-spicey green stuff you get with a plate of Sushi ----though that stuff is often a colored mustard imitation. It can have a powerful effect on your olfactory sense. It will surely be effective, but how they are going to make it pleasant, remains to be seen, or rather smelled.
The Ultimate Solution to Oversleeping
This will definitely get you up .
Are you a very heavy sleeper, and have important appointments? Get this "Money Shredder Clock". This is no joke. You insert a $10 or (better) a $100 dollar bill into the clock. Place it 15 feet away from the bed. When the alarm goes off, if you don't jump up to shut it off within 30 seconds, your money is shredded (as shown). There are several clocks with this idea, unfortunately none with a bed vibrator or flashing light, so add a vibrating clock to the setup. Costly, yes, but wow, it will get you up! Google it.
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