Illuminating the Paradoxes of Deaf Experience: Bowe, Gannon, and Disability

Autor/a: KRENTZ, Christopher
Año: 2023
Editorial: Sign Language Studies, 23(3), 355-385
Tipo de código: Copyright
Soporte: Digital


Comunidad y cultura sorda


The last sixty years have been a time of tumultuous change in the American deaf community. Two deaf figures who made a great difference during this period were Frank Bowe and Jack Gannon, who passed away in 2007 and 2022, respectively. Bowe was a prominent disability rights leader, helping to secure more rights for deaf and all disabled Americans, while Gannon helped to advance appreciation of deaf signing communities with his advocacy and several influential studies of deaf people who sign. Although they both lived in the second half of the twentieth century and knew each other, they had quite different lives, mostly because Bowe did not attend a school for deaf students or learn sign language until he was an adult, while Gannon grew up in the deaf community. Their memoirs offer a valuable way for us to investigate the details of recent deaf experience. The books illuminate not only Bowe and Gannon's work to make the world a more just place for deaf people, but also the pressure they both experienced to adopt oralism, the importance of parents and educational placement, the liberating nature of sign language, and the move from deaf schools to educational mainstreaming. The memoirs also give differing perspectives on signing deaf people's complicated relationship with concepts of disability, suggesting a way forward.