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Bug: Deaf Identity and Internal Revolution
Synopses & Reviews
“What you have in your hands is a bomb. But it is the kind you need to hold on to for dear life, not run away from.”
—From the Foreword, John Lee Clark
Christopher Jon Heuer lost his hearing early, but not before “being able to hear a lot as a kid.” He also received a good education, both in a speech-oriented setting and a signing environment. These varied experiences provided him with the perfect background to write about biases he faced, not only those of a mostly oblivious hearing society, but also those of ideologically restrictive members of the Deaf community. BUG: Deaf Identity and Internal Revolution combines new work of Heuer’s with his best columns from The Tactile Mind Weekly and the National Association of the Deaf’s Mind Over Matter. He addresses all topics – exit interviews, baldness, faith healing, marriage, cats, Christmas trips, backyard campfires in boxer shorts – with a withering wit that spares no aspect of life and deafness.
Being “bugged” for Heuer began early: “When I was growing up, my mother’s response to every problem I had was: ‘Well, he just needs to adjust to his deafness.’ Bloody nose? ‘Chris, you need to adjust to your deafness.’ Homework not done? ‘I know it’s hard adjusting to your deafness, honey, but ....’ Acne scarring? ‘Lots of teenagers get zits, Chris. I know it’s hard for you, dealing with this while trying to adjust to your ....’” He rebelled then, and continues through his even-handed irreverence in BUG, a bomb that should go off in everyone’s consciousness about being deaf and Deaf.
"A lot of things bug Heuer, not least the insensitivity of the hearing and the narrow-mindedness of many in the deaf-or is it Deaf-community. The small 'd'/capital 'D' question is not a small matter; Heuer uses them to differentiate between those who have a hearing impairment and people who define themselves as part of a deaf culture with its own language (American Sign) and traditions. Heuer was born with impaired hearing but suffered continuing hearing loss throughout his childhood, becoming almost entirely deaf early on. An English teacher at Gaullaudet, a Washington, D.C. university for the deaf, Heuer proves an intriguing, dynamic guide: though he learned to speak as a young child, he now chooses to sign; though he identifies strongly with the Deaf Pride movement, he deplores its insularity. Collecting 116 opinion pieces-most from The Tactile Mind Weekly, some from the National Association of the Blind website, a few new-Heuer proves angry, lively and convincing whether discussing the complacency of the Deaf toward illiteracy in their ranks, or the failure of hearing parents to learn Sign when their hearing impaired children are young. Despite his serious intent, Heuer is always entertaining, and his insights into discrimination and 'the soft prejudice' have a powerful reach." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
Book News Annotation:
Heuer (applied literacy, Gallaudet U.) takes on the shifting boundaries caused by small slides as well as earthquakes between hearing, deaf and Deaf culture, including the reasons for bias, disdain and assumed superiority. In vignettes that come from ground-level real life rather than from on high his commentary is hilarious as well as wise. His material on passing from one culture to another constantly is based primarily on his personal experiences and observations but he relates to all readers, whether or not they consider themselves ordinary. Annotation ©2007 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
A contributor to "The Tactile Mind Weekly" and the National Association of the Deafs "Mind Over Matter" writes about the biases he has faced in both the hearing and deaf communities, and addresses such topics as Christmas trips and marriage with a withering wit.
About the Author
Christopher Jon Heuer is an instructor in the Department of Applied Literacy at Gallaudet University, Washington, DC.
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