Books about Deaf Culture and People

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In recognition of National Week of Deaf People in Australia and International Week of Deaf People, I thought it was time I compiled a list of books about deaf people, deaf culture and deaf history.
Note: this is not a sponsored post. The book titles are bolded so you can click on them to buy from Book Depository. I will be paid as an affiliate which will go towards the costs of running this blog.

Deaf Gain: Raising the Stakes for Human Diversity 
H-Dirksen L. Bauman and Joseph J. Murray

If you wanted to learn more about Deaf Gain, this book is for you. This concept has reframed deafness in so many ways, especially how it benefits the mainstream society. There’s a lot of stigma associated with deafness, and this book aims to remove these by teaching people about benefits of being deaf.

While this is not a book for casual reading, it is one to have on your bookshelf if you have an invested interest in deaf studies and you work closely with deaf people.

Seeing Voices
Oliver Sacks

Like many hearing people, Sacks was unfamiliar with the concept of living in a silent yet visual world. His book tells you about his experiences based on his time in the deaf community, and what he learnt from deaf people. Whilst this book was written during the 80s, it is still relevant today. This is a must read for those who are interested in learning more about deaf community and sign language. Deaf people should give this book a chance, as it gives you an insight into Sack’s thoughts as a hearing person who has little to none experience with deaf people.

Understanding Deaf Culture: In Search of Deafhood
Dr. Paddy Ladd

In this ground-breaking book, Ladd unpacks deaf culture and explains how deafhood is instrumental to the development of deaf culture and deaf identity. There are many layers within the deaf culture, which gives the reader a better understanding of why deaf people have their own culture. Having coined the term Deafhood, Ladd also explains why this is an important rite of passage experienced by Deaf child, adult, and family. 

This book can become heavy at times, although it is highly recommended for those who are invested in the deaf culture and community.

Introduction to American Deaf Culture
Thomas K. Holcomb

Holcomb gives the reader an insight into how deaf people are better understood from a cultural perspective. While this book is heavily focused on the American deaf culture, it takes us for a ride through the evolution of the deaf culture in America. There’s also a lot of lessons to take home from Holcomb’s exploration of American deaf culture. It’s a great book for those who are fascinated with the deaf culture in America, particularly for those who are new to the deaf culture.

Finding Zoe
Gail Harris & Brandi Rarus

As a 6 month old Deaf baby, Zoe was stuck in the foster system and desperate for a family who was willing to give her love and the world….until the Raruses came along. Brandi takes us through the adoption process and the difficulties experienced by her and her husband who is also Deaf. This book also gives us an insight into Brandi’s self-discovery and discovering Deafhood which lead her to becoming Miss Deaf America and then meeting her husband Tim who was one of the leaders at the Deaf President Now movement. 

An easy yet moving read, this book comes highly recommended for those who are after memoirs based on Deaf people and their experiences. 

Deaf Empowerment: Emergence, Struggle, & Rhetoric
Katherine A. Jankowski

This book will explain the ideology of social movements and how it has influenced deaf people to push for change. Deaf people are often lobbying for their rights, although the most impact comes out of social movements such as the aftermath of the Second International Congress on Education of the Deaf (Milan, 1880) and Deaf President Now at Gallaudet University. Jankowski’s book is very well written and very easy to read. This book is a fantastic resource for those who work in the field of community development and advocacy with deaf people.

I’ll Scream Later
Marlee Matlin

A compelling autobiography by Marlee Matlin, the first Deaf person to win an Oscar. Marlee takes us for a ride throughout her life in this book, giving us an insight into her struggles with language and identity, drug use, Hollywood, and so much more. Marlee is undoubtedly honest about her struggles which has lead her to be the person she is today. We also learn about how she discovers her Deaf identity and learning American Sign Language, and how she has become one of the most influential Deaf advocates in the world. An easy read for those who are interested in learning more about Marlee.

This is only a small list, as there’s still a lot of books about deaf people and culture I’m yet to read. If you have authored a book about deaf people and/or culture, I would be more than happy to write a review about it. I can be contacted at sherrie@isigniwander.com

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