Portrayal of deafness and deaf culture in children's books and juvenile fiction
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SubjectCommunication Disorders; Deaf Studies; Deaf Culture; deafness; children’s books; literature; oralism; manualism
Throughout the course of history, numerous perspectives on deafness and Deaf Culture have been accepted by larger society. Deafness can be defined in a two dimensional way: as a physical condition, categorized by a profound hearing loss, and as a cultural construction, categorized by a Deaf identity. (Baynton, 1998, p. 2). Societies’ views on deafness and Deaf Culture can be analyzed through literature. Literature reflects the cultural norms and beliefs of a society. Literature can also have the power to influence or shape the views and ideals of a society or culture; this concept is especially true for children books, which instill ideas in children starting at a young age. (Duhan, 2015). This paper will explore the evidence of historical trends of deafness and Deaf Culture in literature for children, particularly the period of oralism, when deafness was viewed negatively and deaf people were expected to assimilate to hearing culture, and the more recent period of manualism, that embraces the use of sign language and accepts Deaf Culture. Additionally, this paper will use previous accredited research and the analysis of themes of twenty children books to draw conclusions on messages about deafness and Deaf Culture children are receiving from literature today.
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