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Forbidden Signs: American Culture and the Campaign against Sign Language
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Forbidden Signs: American Culture and the Campaign against Sign Language

3.9  ·  Rating details ·  92 Ratings  ·  12 Reviews
Forbidden Signs explores American culture from the mid-nineteenth century to 1920 through the lens of one striking episode: the campaign led by Alexander Graham Bell and other prominent Americans to suppress the use of sign language among deaf people.

The ensuing debate over sign language invoked such fundamental questions as what distinguished Americans from non-Americans,
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Hardcover, 235 pages
Published December 1st 1996 by University Of Chicago Press
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skein
Aug 05, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: yes!
Oh, lovely. Not only a study of the role of signed language in American culture, 19th-century to vaguely-present-era - it's also a considered exploration of prejudice - the why and how and institutionalization thereof - the construction of normalcy as a shared ideal (!!)
and there are FOOTNOTES! So many footnotes! Oh, so many first-person accounts! and photographs! and and and ... !

This is one of those books that I read cringingly for the first hundred pages because I was waiting for the author t
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Dakota McCoy
Jul 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Marvellous and detailed description of the tides of opinion in how to educate D/deaf children. An important read for anyone who area about equality and equal access
Emilie
Sep 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Interesting but depressing. It told the story of the views of many hearing educators of deaf students from the 1860s to the early part of the 20th century. Many tried to eradicate the use of sign language and only have the students learn to speak and lipread. Deaf adults for the most part strongly opposed this trend. It turned out to be a failure, but at the cost of what could have been much better educations for many deaf children. What would become American Sign Language, Deaf culture and a kn ...more
Emily
May 04, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a compelling, thoughtful and detailed argument for the use of ASL in the education of deaf children. I had a rough idea of the history of signing in America, and who the main protagonists were, but this book brings an in depth look at the social changes that not only turned America and being “American” on its ear, but nearly threw ASL out the window. It may be a tad dry for those not interested in the subject, but coming from someone who has difficulty focusing and becoming immersed in r ...more
Stephanie Colon
Apr 03, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I struggled to read it a bit because it does have a textbook feel. However, the information in the book is amazing and eye opening. Many times there is not enough class time to delve into the history and its players, the origins of conflicts etc. I knew oralism was bad but I didn't understand what factors produced such a ridiculous idea until i read this book.
I recommend the book for those studying Deaf Culture as it explores how hearing people reacted to deafness, however the year is 2016 and
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Tamra
Sep 28, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: historical context fans, or Deaf Culture students
Details the switch from manualism (the use of ASL in deaf education) to oralism (teaching spoken English and lip-reading), and places it in historical and cultural context.

Seeking out historical context is something that I do for fun, so this book was perfect for me. I was delighted to be able to see something deeper than “Oralism is evil” and “Manualism is wonderful.”

Word of warning, though: Like most books in the Understanding Historical Context Genre, this book is really wordy. If you enjoy i
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Jessiane
Jan 29, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone interested or experiencing deaf culture, personally or otherwise
Recommended to Jessiane by: it was an assignment for my ASL class
That people who are not directly involved with a disability (ie, either have it themselves, have a child or have a sibling who has it) do not know what is best for people with that disability. Also with deafness there are varying degrees. I would not force a completly deaf person to read lips and speak. I would not force a slightly deaf person to just sign. It is good. Very insightful into how people like Alexander Graham Bell were very deprimental in the development of real ways to help the dea ...more
Jacqueline115
Good for Deaf Culture or Culture Studies course as well as for anyone that wants to know more about ASL as a language & its history.
Diana
Apr 06, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This reads purely like a text book. I expected it to be more engaging.
Erin
Really wanted to like this book, but couldn't hold my attention. Started as a paper, and continued to keep that "feel" of a book. I'm sure it's great historical reference.
Missvandort
Apr 04, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: deaf-studies
Great book, good research and interesting view.
The epilogue is brilliant.
A must have for all Deaf Studies enthusiasts.
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“In every society on earth the child is regarded as a member of his parents' groups.” 0 likes
“Deaf people occupy a unique position. They make up the only cultural group where cultural information and language has been predominantly passed down from child to child rather than from adult to child, and the only one in which the native language of the children is different from the language spoken by the parents.” 0 likes
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