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Harlan Lane. The Mask of Benevolence: Disabling the Deaf Community (Random House, 1993)

From Subject
"Heather M. Sauber" <hmsaube@ilstu.edu> Harlan Lane: The Mask of Benevolence (Sauber) 
Tom Crews <tscrews@ilstu.edu> Harlan Lane The Mask of Benevolence
David Kershaw <dckersh@ilstu.edu> Mask of Benevolence & Forked Tongue (Kershaw)
John Japuntich <jcjapun@ILSTU.EDU> Review:, Lane, (Japuntich)
"Eric T. Knepper" <eknepp@ILSTU.EDU> Re: Review; The Mask of Benevolence (Taverna)
John Bevill <jbevill@FCG.NET> Review: THE MASK OF BENEVOLENCE (Siders)
Danielle Skrodal <dcskrod@ILSTU.EDU> Review: THE MASK OF BENEVOLENCE (Skrodal)
"Eric T. Knepper" <eknepp@ILSTU.EDU> Re: Review: THE MASK OF BENEVOLENCE (Siders)
ROBERT MILLER <ltrobmil@HOTMAIL.COM> The Mask of Benevolence (Miller)
Robert Taylor <fire710@YAHOO.COM> Lane, Mask of Benevolence. ( Robert Taylor, ISU)
Scott Berends <swberen@ilstu.edu> Re: Lane, Mask of Benevolence. ( Robert Taylor, ISU
Autumn Pemble <atpembl@ilstu.edu> Re: The Mask of Benevolence (Miller)

Date: Tue, 9 Apr 1996 14:50:25 -0500
From: "Heather M. Sauber" <hmsaube@ilstu.edu>
Subject: Harlan Lane: The Mask of Benevolence (Sauber) 

Review of Harlan Lane's The Mask of Benevolence
By. Heather M. Sauber
Illinois State University
April 8, 1996

In the book The Mask of Benevolence, Harlan Lane compares the ideas that much like any minority in this country, blacks, women, Latinos and Asians, deaf people are also seen as cultural outsiders. Although deaf people look like every day individuals, they have their own language, values and cultures, that breaks them away from anyone else. Regardless of race, class, or gender each deaf person is discriminated against in this country as well as half of the other countries around the globe.

Most often Lane sees that the problems that are surrounding most deaf people is the stereotype "deaf and dumb". They are seen that way because the majority of educators, audiologists, and psychologists can not see beyond the mask. The tests that are administered to these individuals are often one-sided. The test givers are just as naive about how to administer the test instructions as the test taker themselves. The deaf persons results are lower than most other people. With a lower I.Q. rate, those who take the test are then seen as retarded.

Because of their lack of hearing and the primary usage of the manual language, American Sign Language (ASL), the deaf person is believed to be unable to perform in a hearing world. The deaf person will continually have a hard time trying to communicate with the people of the world when they are only taught rudimentary fundamentals of the English language. They will constantly be known in this world as "disabled" therefore encompassing them in a stereotype that refers to the fact that they must always be dependant upon someone else.

In fact this is true. For many years, the audist and the deaf person have entered into a world of elective co-dependence. Lane's position comes from a more historical stance. The hearing people believed that it was their duty to care for those who were in need while the deaf, whom were catered to, accepted this need for care because to them it was a sort of nurturing and loving and affection .

Lane also discusses the deaf culture. By other people's standards the deaf culture is not really prevalent, but Lane found that to be just the opposite. Deaf people have their own set of clubs and organizations that help them assimilate into the hearing world. It is often believed that deaf people have poor social awareness, are often isolated, cannot understand other hearing people, and can not communicate. Most like African American cultural stereotypes, deaf people appear to have one more thing in common, they are incompetent socially, cognitively, behavioral and emotionally. The minority itself believes that the only real solidarity is with others of that minority. The deaf person should feel free to flaunt his manual language and not be afraid of it.

Lane makes the majority of his allusions to deaf children along with the problems of Spanish-speaking children. Even though the both groups "come" to this country speaking very little if any of the native language, they are required to grasp it and use it as part of the everyday language. Lane states that:

"when a single language is the national language of the great majority, the dominant language group can inspire to impose that language on all the people in an attempt to replace minority languages outright"(112).

This attempt is seen through the failure of deaf education as well as the failure of the FDA and the approval of medical intervention such as the cochlear implants.

Cochlear implants are most likely found in deaf children, but can be placed in adults. There are some types of auditory problems that cochlear implants cannot help. Those who are deafened by sensory problems, they can be helped. There are some reported failures of the cochlear implant, but they are still a viable option in curing deafness or extreme hearing loss.

Deaf education has always been in stages. For many years, deaf education has been in English with all the methods still in place of a hearing child. But, since most children are classified as deaf before the age of five, they did not have the opportunity to learn any English at home. Lane does not say that the failure of deaf education lies in the fact that they cannot speak or lip read in English, the tragedy is that their education is that their education is conducted exclusively in this English they do not know (130).

One of the books cited by Lane is James and Thomas Sporadley's Deaf Like Me. In this book Lynn Sporadley was diagnosed as profoundly deaf at about seven months old. The family was told that all deaf people had some sort of residual hearing, and that through therapy and hearing aids she would learn to speak. The key point was that no manual languages was to be used whatsoever. Doctor's advised the Sporadleys to treat her as a hearing child and that they could start teaching her how to lip read.

This poor child, according to Lane has been stripped of her culture, thrown into a world, she will never understand or love. One several occasions, Lynn could not express that she needed or wanted something. At other times, she would throw temper tantrums because she could not understand what was being said to her. The parents in their own minds had come to deal with the depressing fact that their child will never be able to speak, but she MUST learn to speak as fluently as her peers, but the question that Lane asks is who are her peers? Is it the deaf child of the same age and educational background or is it the hearing child. This can only lead to further confuse the child. They will no longer quite know "where" they fit in.

On a more historical perspective, the audists have devised a five stage program that has continually forced deaf children to assimilate into a hearing world. The first stage is Oralism-this was the late 19th century ban of signed languages and deaf teachers from residential schools. The second stage was called day schools, which were established on a large scale basis. They were established so that children could live at home in a majority language environment. Thirdly, the dominance of the majority language is reinforced (in this case English). This stage is often called total communication, where a teacher would use all forms od communication available so that they may communicate with their deaf pupils. The fourth stage is known as mainstreaming. In this model the deaf students are scattered among the districts local schools for hearing children. The fifth and final model is the medical model, surgery.

The FDA has recently approved the cochlear prothesis. They have been authorized to conduct surgery on children. Reports have shown that children who receive the cochlear implants are no better at hearing or speaking as the adolescent who uses a hearing aid or becomes deaf later in life.

The cochlear implant seems to be an uncomfortable prosthetic that would only make sound hurt. The implant consists of deeply inserted wire electrodes. The implant is designed to convert sound waves into nerve impulses.

For the most part, deaf people are considered defective. In the hearing world, deafness is a bad thing, deafness is stigmatized. In order to fight back one must understand the interesting characteristics of their minority. The deaf person must now realize that the treatment that they deserve and most insist upon is equality.

Heather M. Sauber

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Date: Wed, 17 Apr 1996 12:00:11 -0500
From: Tom Crews <tscrews@ilstu.edu>
Subject: Harlan Lane The Mask of Benevolence

Review of Harlan Lane's The Mask of Benevolence (Tom Crews) April 15, 1996

"The deaf believe that they are our equals in all respects. We should be generous and not destroy that illusion. But whatever they believe, deafness is an infirmity and we should repair it whether the person who has it is disturbed by it or not." Harlan Lane uses this 1853 quote by a resident physician of the Paris school for deaf children to capture the audist medical view of the past and the present. Lane paints a bleak picture of deaf education in America and believes that the deaf have their own culture which should be allowed to flourish. Cochlear Implants would be the latest evidence of the hearing world's attempt to treat deaf people as disabled instead of as a culture. Lane's world for the deaf seems to include separation of deaf children from their parents into residential schools, emphasis of learning would be ASL (American Sign Language), and total rejection of hearing aids and cochlear implants. In fact one would almost believe that Lane would endorse total separation of the deaf from the hearing. The bottom line is that Lane and many other deaf people believe that being deaf is a condition that is not a handicap and any attempt to remedy that situation is like trying to fix something that is not broke.

The deaf community believe that it is a linguistic minority, not disabled. They reject the premise that deafness is a tragic infirmity. They view themselves as visual people, with their own visual language, social organization, history, and mores. They believe they have their own way of being, their own language and culture. Lane admits that the deaf child faces many obstacles in life, but the lack of communication at home, inferior education in school, discrimination in employment, are obstacles placed in his way by hearing people who, if only they came to know the deaf community, could readily remove them.

Deaf identity itself is highly valued; deaf people seem to agree that a hearing person can never fully acquire that identity and become a full-fledged member of the deaf community. Speech and thinking like a hearing person are negatively valued in deaf culture. Deaf people who adopt hearing values and look down on other deaf people are regarded as traitors. In the deaf community, to be called oral is unacceptable. This means you have made the wrong life choices, you have embraced values that place a premium on speech. According to a 1988 survey of deaf adults, two-thirds thought their social life was better than hearing people's. An estimated nine out of ten members of the American deaf community marry other members of their cultural group. Deaf parents' joy at the birth of a son or daughter is not commonly diminished by their finding that the child is deaf. Other characteristics of the deaf community is a penchant for group decision- making, mutual aid and reciprocity, and strong group loyalty. Members of the American deaf community are not isolated, or uncommunicative, or unintelligent, or childlike, or needy, or any of these things socity often imagines them to be.

Most members of American deaf community are simply baffled when told they are disabled. Being called Hearing-Impaired instead of deaf was started by the audist establishment. Had the deaf community been asked about this they would have learned that "deaf" is not negatively valued - "hearing-impaired" is. "Deaf refers to shared culture, language, and experience; "hearing-impaired" seems to refer to a physical defect that someone outside deaf culture possesses.

The hearing leadership of special education has maintained that the local school offers the least restrictive environment for deaf education; deaf people themselves think it is the most restrictive environment. Hearing authorities commonly view American Sign Language as a crutch, refuse to learn it, and discourage its use; the half million or more deaf Americans for who this is a primary language believe it is the equal of English as a natural language and clearly superior for instructing and communicating with deaf people.The residential schools for deaf children provided a vital link in the transmission of deaf culture and language, which is why the deaf community finds abhorrent the dismantling of the residential schools, while the disability lobby finds abhorrent segregated schooling of disabled children in special residential schools. Lane maintains that since nine out of ten deaf children will eventually be members of the American deaf community they have a unique birthright that requires some form of grouping. The residential schools of the past offered the ability to communicate with other human beings, to develop friendships, participate in student activities, emulate older students and deaf staff, and perhaps most importantly, acquire self-respect as a deaf person. None of these advantages are available to the deaf child in an ordinary public school, where ASL, deaf adults, and a deaf community are absent.

Nearly sixty thousand of eighty thousand deaf children are now mainstreamed. Most deaf children are in schools where there are only one or two other deaf children. Think how difficult it must be for a deaf child to learn as he has to keep his eyes glued on the interpreter for long stretches while classroom events suit his hearing classmates: maps are unfurled, slides are projected, tables of numbers are displayed, and all the while the teacher talks, the interpreter (if provided) interprets, and the deaf child must never look away from the interpreter. Lane warns that immersed in a hearing, English-speaking environment, the deaf child frequently drowns in the mainstream.

"I have experienced both, mainstream and deaf school," eighth-grader Jesse Thomas testified to the National Council on Disabilities. He first explained, "I'm not disabled, just deaf," and then gave his reasons for opposing mainstreaming: "Learning through an interpreter is very hard; it's bad socially in the mainstream; you are always outnumbered; you don't feel like it's your school; you never know deaf adults; you don't belong; you don't feel comfortable as a deaf person." By mainstreaming the deaf into local schools, the deaf child has been cut off from his deaf world, having blocked his communication with parents, peers, and teachers. The experts have disabled the deaf child as never before in American history according to Lane. The typical deaf child, born deaf or deafened before learning English, is utterly at a loss as he sits on the deaf bench in the hearing classroom.

Lane finds that deaf children who do best in school, mainstream or residential, are the fortunate 10 percent who learned ASL as a native language from their deaf parents. Further, those deaf children who come to school with a knowledge of ASL are also better adjusted, better socialized, and have more positive attitudes than their counterparts who have been deprived of effective communication. The largest study to date in the United States found that the majority of Hispanic children who were taught to read Spanish before learning to read English learned later to read English quite well. Lane applies these findings to ASL-using children and concludes that instruction using the deaf child's most fluent language would actually improve his or her performance in English. Lane agrees with those at Gallaudet University who advocate bilingual education for deaf children and that they should learn ASL early from deaf adults. This, their most fluent language, should be used as the primary language for instruction. English should be taught as a second language, using ASL and written texts for instruction. No child should be asked to understand speech and learn through speech at the same time.

Lane argues that oral education of deaf students usually leads to class time designed for academic subjects being neglected in favor of language and speech remediation. Schools' failure to teach deaf children to read is a disaster. Reading is a lifeline to knowledge and academic achievement for the deaf student more than for any other student. Lane summarizes "the superior performance of deaf children from deaf homes highlights the changes that most need to be made in the education of deaf children: namely, a return to manual language, deaf teachers, and deaf administrators directing residential schools - successful practices in the last century, when American deaf children studied all their subjects in their most fluent language, ASL."

Hearing professionals late in the last century banished traditional sign languages in favor of the national spoken languages. In 1985 in an American psychiatric publication it stated "Profound deafness that occurs prior to the acquisition of verbal language is socially and psychiatrically devastating." Lane concludes that because nearly all deaf children today became deaf before they could learn English, and most are labled profoundly deaf, that would make most deaf children "psychiatrically devastated." Those who are in training to become the teachers, doctors, social workers, and so on are often reading and learning that deaf people are socially isolated, intellectually weak, behaviorally impulsive, and emotionally immature. The studies that gave rise to these stereotypes are totally ambushed by Lane leaving them no credibility whatsoever. The content of the tests, the way the tests were measured and judged, the language that was used, the content that was tested over are all examples of this pathetic attempt to come up with a "psychology of the deaf". Lane argues that it is also a result of the hearing authorities struggle to impose their will on deaf children or adults. Additionally, he maintains that hearing people who control the affairs of deaf children and adults to not know deaf people and do not want to. Research on the deaf ought to include deaf people themselves.

Lane hammers those professing to serve the deaf community today because they do not consult the deaf community. It would be unthinkable today to have a commission trying to deal with black problems without having blacks being prominant members of that commission. Deaf people themselves should be crucial participants in the discussion concerning the lives of deaf children and adults and the roles of the professions that serve them, but they have been excluded - socially, by law, and by oppressive education. Their counsel, which the parent of a newborn deaf child needs more than any other, is excluded from the home and the clinic.

The attempt to educate deaf children with teaching methods developed for hearing children continues to prove a failure, decade after decade. In a classroom where English, spoken or written, is the basic means of communication, deaf children are baffled and withdrawn, the more so as nine out of ten became deaf before they could learn English at home. These children lack the knowledge of English and the skills of articulation and lip-reading required to succeed. Training in lip-reading and speech generally fails with children who have never heard speech, and most of the deaf children in school today have never heard speech. The tragedy is not that America's deaf children cannot speak or lip-read English; the tragedy is that their education is conducted exclusively in this English they do not know. The result of a study of seventeen thousand deaf high school students in the United States found the average sixteen year old deaf student reads as poorly as an eight-year old hearing child. Since educational programs for deaf children have not succeeded in teaching them English and yet rely on English for all teaching, the programs long ago settled for instructing their deaf students in manual trades. It seems Lane is obviously right in his belief that it is vital that deaf children do not remain languageless for years on end, for this is to undermine their intellectual and social development.

Lane believes the single most important reform, from which many will follow, is to get deaf adults -teachers, administrators,and parents - involved once again in the education of deaf children.

Deaf people need to be given the opportunity to succeed in the hearing world if possible. They need to have choices. Not allowing ASL to be a primary language seems to be self-defeating in its effect. Not being allowed to have the opportunity to learn English, learn how to speak and lip-read is negligent as well. The Deaf may have their own culture but to advocate this isolation for themselves is one thing, quite another for a deaf child who has the possibility of living a productive, successful and happy life in the hearing world. Education must train children for quality job opportunities for the deaf. Making ASL the primary language is great as long as the second language - English - can be used at a functional level as soon as possible - for the deaf must have the opportunity to enter hearing society and succeed if possible. Communication with hearing people is critical for success in the work world. I strongly disagree with Lane's contention that "we should refuse cochlear implants for young deaf children even if the devices were perfect." Lane is right that we needn't view children born deaf as tragically infirm but to say that using the Cochlear Implant is morally wrong is for him to force his ethical values and beliefs on all others. Each child is different. All options need to be available. --

Tom Crews

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Date: Sun, 27 Apr 1997 19:31:08 -0500
From: David Kershaw Mailto:Luisarturo@aol.com
Subject: Mask of Benevolence & Forked Tongue (Kershaw)

Harlan Lane, MASK OF BENEVOLENCE. 1993. &

Rosalie Pedalino Porter, FORKED TONGUE. Basic Books, 1990.

Review by: David Kershaw Mailto:Luisarturo@aol.com OR dckersh@ilstu.edu

As the recent controversy over Ebonics illustrates, deep rifts exist among every group in America over which language should be taught to America's children. Some think children should only learn their native language (monolinguists). Others think everyone, if they do not already do so, should learn English (bilingualists). However, division exists even over the means through which minority language children should learn English.

Two authors represent, essentially, the pole positions on these issues; Harlan Lane and Rosalie Porter. Lane takes the position that only a deaf community can meet the educational and personal needs of a deaf child and only through symbolic signing and deaf culture. Lane's seems to be writing mainly to parents of deaf children in order to convince them of his position. Porter believes that hearing language minorities can benefit most in America from uninhibited learning of English. Our current bilingual education programs are not meeting the goals that are laid out for them, she argues.

Harlan Lane, in MASK OF BENEVOLENCE, seeks to promote the education of prelingually deaf children through the use of deaf teachers and American Sign Language. Lane opposes the futile attempts to teach these children to read lips or speak and get by as a hearing person in the hearing world. To promote his vision and ingrain in the reader the belief in the superior nature of that vision, he attempts to show the greatness of deaf culture and the inescapable harshness of hearing culture's interaction with deaf culture.

>From the beginning of the book to its conclusion, Lane focuses on the historical treatment of deaf people. What he finds is a repeated negative characterization of deafness. Deaf people were stigmatized, he argues, physically, characterlogically, and tribally (p. 7). They were seen as isolated, empty, deviants, unintelligent, and clannish, among others. However, most importantly, they were seen as infirmed. This characterization caused and still causes the most damage, Lane argues, because it holds with it the expectation that the deaf will never be as completely "able" as a hearing person. The result is accommodation and sympathy, but never the opportunity for the deaf to reach their full potential. They were serviced as dependents, not treated as equals. One consequence of these beliefs has been the over institutionalization of deaf children as deficient and mentally incontinent, he notes.

A poignant example of this mentality manifests itself in the education institution's treatment of deaf children. The constant theme in deaf children's' educational programs has been hearing teachers teaching (mostly, or in part, in integrated environments) either in only the native language or a transition from sign language to the native language or a new native language variation sign language. Lane notes that educational conferences from the 1800's, the Paris Exposition of 1878 and the Congress of Milan of 1880, were particularly devastating (p. 113-115). These congresses brought together hearing education administrators, excluded all deaf participants, and flamed the fires of oral fanaticism; "Oral speech is the sole power that can rekindle the light God breathed into man." (p. 114). The conclusions reached were in favor of oral speech and against all manual languages.

Lane is appalled by these events. However, even though time has passed, he notes that some of the treatment has changed, much of it has not. He blames this fact on the extrapolative leap, ethnocentrism, the economic incentives of the "audist institution," and the lack of recognition of deafness as a legitimate culture (the three are not completely distinct).

The extrapolative leap occurs when a hearing person comes in contact with a deaf person and inevitably asks the question, "what must it be like being deaf." Lane believes that the result is an interpretation that leaves the person who makes the leap believing the person is lonely, alienated, and somehow lacking in fullness. Lane argues that one cannot truly understand what it is like to be deaf, especially through those means. In fact, he argues the leap creates incorrect views about deaf people and ultimately educational barriers that keep deaf people from reaching their potential and deaf children from learning deaf culture. It is this deaf culture whose existence and superiority he seeks to establish (with the ultimate goal deaf for deaf education).

Lane's arguments for deaf separate education rely on the establishment of a unique deaf culture. He does this in part by noting how the past treatment of deaf people parallels those of Africa who suffered under colonization. His main avenue is through comparison of negative attributions in historical literature. As a result of not recognizing deaf and African cultures as different cultures, some of their characteristics were misinterpreted and the deaf and Africans were labeled inferior. For example, both cultures had been characterized unintelligent, childlike, impulsive, and emotional (or emotionally disturbed). They were both associated with negative social, cognitive, behavioral, and emotional characteristics. As a result, in coordination with hearing people believing in the superiority of their culture (ethnocentrism), the dominate culture sought to impose on these cultures a cure, or at least the means to help these groups behave more "civil," according to Lane.

To further prove the existence of deaf culture, Lane notes as evidence that deaf people often only marry their own, that they have their own language, that they have their own arts, that they have unique traits (such as story telling, touching, visual attentiveness, viewing a deaf child as a gift, mutual aid, and group decision making), that they have their own rules ( for name-giving, polite discourse, etc.), and that they are ethnocentric against hearing people (p. 18). These characteristics, Lane argues, differentiate deafness as a culture. It is here that Lane attempts to suggest the superiority of deaf culture by implying that hearing culture lacks these characteristics when applied to deaf children. He also attempts to prove the superiority of deaf culture by demeaning hearing culture, "theater of the deaf calls attention to some of the more laughable features of hearing people's behavior: our endless conversations on the telephone, our acute fear of being touched, our visual inattentiveness, our frigid face" (p. 17).

The establishment of deafness as a culture is important for Lane. Since he believes that deaf children can gain the most education and personal growth from American Sign Language and deaf teachers (he assumes they can provide language fluency, shared experiences, role modeling, and greater caring, without internalizing negative self identification in the children; while hearing teachers cannot), the most effective way to promote his goal is to have deafness recognized as a separate, historically discriminated against culture. If this occurs, the government would be forced to provide some of the protections guaranteed to other historically discriminated against minorities. Specifically, he seeks to gain recognition by the government for bilingual education enforcement for deaf children.

Under the current educational system, Lane argues, deaf children lose precious time trying to become oral speakers. The end result is children who have not learned any language sufficiently and are behind hearing children in academic advancement, as well as in developing social skills. To further his call for separate deaf culture education, he makes the allegation that this culture is so foreign to hearing individuals that they can never fully understand it, teach it, or give the emotional support a deaf child needs. In fact, hearing parents are victims of those who mislead them into the dependency/infirmity model and into the belief that they can give the child all the help they need.

To drum up further support for his position, Lane attempts to vilify what he calls the "audist institution." He alleges that their only motivation is to maintain the economic benefits they receive. He points out that the research being done, that is focused on as credible, comes mainly from big corporate interests, and that alternative theories and studies are rarely done or acknowledged in policy making. The advice that is followed is that which is given by companies that seek to have deaf people as economic dependents.

This dependency/infirmity model has now taken root in the attempt by science to give deaf people the ability to hear through technological means, Lane states to his dismay. Still being driven by misperceptions and economic greed, audists (those who stress the overwhelming need for speech and hearing) have gone to the point of using surgery and Cochlear implants to generate some levels of electronic sound. This has gone too far, according to Lane. First, although it may benefit some post-lingually deaf individuals, pre-lingually deaf individuals will make little progress. Furthermore, the process will create a dependency on hospitals (need to fix implants when they wear out), cause lots of pain, internalize in these individuals the view that they are abnormal, and take time away from productive education in order to possibly generate some speech and hearing capabilities.

Lane's perfect world is represented by the Gallaudet "Revolution." The situation was one where students protested the selection of a hearing candidate over two highly qualified deaf candidates because, allegedly, the board thought deaf people incapable of functioning in the real world. The students demanded the appointee's replacement, and majority placement of deaf executives on the board of the school. For Lane, this marked the movement toward separate and self administration and empowerment.

The importance of Lane's arguments is in finding the best way to meet the needs and desires of pre-lingually deaf children. For Lane, it appears that the ultimate and only goal of all deaf children is education, social relationships, and learning their deaf culture. He rightfully notes that for many, our current approach to education does not always work. Therefore, he presents an important alternative that should not be ignored.

However, the weakness of Lane's approach lies in some of the assumptions he makes. It is factually wrong to identify (implicitly) certain characteristics as pertaining only to deaf culture. For example, there are many hearing parents who view their deaf children as gifts, hearing people often give mutual aid, and hearing people do not all loath being touched. Being deafcentric only makes his arguments look hypocritical (although understandable as a historical consequence).

Second, his allegations that hearing people cannot fully understand being deaf or decide what is the right policy for deaf people, raises the question of how can he, as a hearing person, come to know so much about deaf culture and deaf people's wants that he can write a book about them while others could not. The argument that groups are so different that a member of one group cannot meet the needs of another is preposterous. It assumes completely separate needs and experiences between groups, homogeneity in cultural groups, and almost a biological transference of culture, none of which are true. This does not suggest that deaf children should not learn about deaf culture or the stigmas attached to them by many.

Third, Lane's allegation about the audist establishment's money motivation could easily be turned on the deafists. If there is so much money to be made, why should we assume that deafists are not also motivated by greed. This argument does not forward the deaf child's cause very much.

Fourth, Lane wants to encourage participation of deaf people in the issues that affect them; self-determination. However, Lane engages the oralists in such a demeaning way that it seems he would refuse deaf children and parents of deaf children the right to select the approach that suits their desires best. Through the book, he demeans all other approaches and negatively stereotypes the motives of these individuals and basically engages, as K. A. Appiah would argue, in "the tyranny of racial expectation." Lane would force one identity out of many on deaf individuals.

Finally, although Lane may have some legitimate concerns for ear implants that hardly increase functionality in deaf children, his arguments become weakened when he tries to argue that deaf culture should be preserved and deaf implants not used even if they could work in prelingually deaf children. Such a result would take away the rights of the parents and child to self-determine the childs identity. It also fails to account for the fact that deaf culture was necessarily created in response to discrimination and the inability to achieve certain levels of interaction in hearing culture. If the barriers that created the culture disappear, what are the practical consequences of trying to keep it alive? What are the moral obligations under these auspices? What comparative disadvantages would you be forcing on people?

Rosalie Pedalino Porter takes a different perspective on minority language teaching in FORKED TONGUE. Porter, unlike Lane, is discussing one of the traditional minority languages identified by Title VII, the Bilingual Education Act of the 1968 Elementary and Secondary Education Act (p. 3).

Porter drew on her years as a bilingual educator and a student of educational methods to come to the conclusion that the current bilingual education was not meeting the objectives of the Bilingual Education Act: teaching minority language children English and teaching them the material. In fact, she noticed problems in education beyond flaws in the program design.

The style of bilingual education being taught was that of Transitional Bilingual Education (TBE). TBE sought to move a minority language student from initial predominance of teaching in their native language to a predominance of teaching in English. Furthermore, the types of material taught in English would increase in volume as well as complexity. The premises of TBE were: 1) that learning their first language well can help them earn a second language more successfully (that language skills are easily transferable), 2) students who are taught subjects in their native language will not fall behind, 3) learning a second language before mastering the first could result in semilingualism (p. 60), and 4) complex reasoning takes longer to develop in a second language. It is these assumptions, built into the program, that are flawed and are the reason for the failure of bilingual education in meeting its goals.

FORKED TONGUE reexamines some of the data that was the basis for these assumptions and other data that can be taken as evidence against these assumptions. The studies that are most quoted favoring native language teaching before second language teaching, according to Porter, were those by Skutnabb-Kangas and Toukomaa. However, after peer review, these works have been discredited as invalid based on biased data and opinionated conclusions. Thus, our acceptance may have been premature.

She also cites a study by Paulston (p. 61) that found learning a second language was not related to learning their native language. Porter used a second study, TEACHING READING TO BILINGUAL CHILDREN STUDY, to try to further undermine the assumptions. This study suggested (among other conclusions) that enrollment in the Spanish reading program generally correlated with learning to read in English. Most children gained control of their first language (generally) by age 5, and students who first learn to read in English transferred skills better to Spanish than vice-versa.

A third study she looks at was THE DADE COUNTY BILINGUAL CURRICULUM CONTENT PILOT PROJECT. This study randomly assigned 508 limited English students into one of two types of programs carried out at six schools. One program started the students' curriculum in English only, the other program in Spanish. The results showed that there were no differences in patterns of achievement of the students. Also, students who received only one year of native language training scored higher on nationally recognized standardized tests than those students had two or more years of native language instruction. A survey of the students also suggested the non native language program students did not show signs of emotional distress or lower self-pride. There appeared to be no significant benefit of the native language instruction.

Finally, she also used survey data at times to establish the faith of administrators in particular programs and in student abilities. Although this data is interesting in gauging program support and other impressions, it did not add much in terms of identifying appropriate alternatives. Porter admits some evidence also favors TBE, but she questions the methods and conclusions. Overall, Porter calls on more empirical research into the impacts to clarify what are the true results.

She tries to take further her position by analyzing some international experiences. West Germany's (book was released in 1990) native language only program does not adequately prepare the student's German language skills and the German immersion has also not worked completely (but better than the native language instructions). The Soviet Union, who tried to maintain particular national languages and even subnational native languages, has its Russian language schools surviving because learning the Russian language is the means by which jobs are gotten. Some culture and language maintenance has occured, but (Porter alleges) this is due to restrictive Soviet policies. Sweden, whose researchers developed the theory of semilingualism (no language learned effectively) and the appropriate educational response has shown no proof of its validity in application (either way). Finally, from Canada, she draws her greatest support, from the Quebec Francophone requirements. Quebec's goal was increasing French speakers. To do this, in part they carried out an immersion experiment with groups of children at various ages. The children were taught all subjects in French (although teachers fluent English and French). The results indicated that children who are immersed earlier learn the best. Overall, immersed children learned French better than traditional language class students. Also, when compared on their English skills, the immersed students did just as well as the traditional program students.

She notes however that a more universal acceptance of her position would not be easy. From the outset, she encountered resistance to her theory of effective bilingual education. First, she had bilingual education officials try to pressure her school to not grant her her doctorate as it would undermine bilingual education's standing. Then, after taking up a position with the innovative Newton school and implementing a program based on her theory, the State denied bilingual education funding to the program and administratively harassed the school. FORKED TONGUE at times shows how bitter Porter became with the situation.

What accounts for these reactions? According to Porter, vested economic interest, alternative motives, and bureaucratic inertia. She argues, as Lane does, that those who benefit from the program would seek to maintain it at all costs (not to mention that it's easier to maintain the present course of action). Second, she sees a less offensive motive in the desire to maintain one's culture and diversity in general.

Constitutionally the argument can be made and is made that people have a right to maintain their culture and language. Porter would not disagree with this. In fact, she recognizes the difficulties people encounter (such as divisions, emotional impacts, etc.; p. 179). However, she also sees native language impositions in education as a potential way to maintain discrimination (citing past South African policies). She further questions whose role it should be to maintain these languages, and in fact, how fast do languages disappear? Evidence she submits suggests that it takes over four generations to disappear and language is only maintained longer by new influxes of the population. There is also little ability, she alleges, to bring back a dead culture. Also, the primary saver of a culture is community itself, Porter would argue.

However, in Porter's mind there is only one obligation under the Bilingual Education Act, to teach English and subjects. Therefore, the focus has be led astray by faulty assumptions and culture interests. She, having compared her experiences with others nationally and internationally, concludes that a program that is going to teach English needs to have several criteria. These criteria include: (near) immersion at an early age; not segregated from majority language speakers; teaching regular school subjects, with teachers pushing the limits of the children's abilities; promoting the acceptance of their cultures (to have them feel at easy and included); specially trained and competent teachers; and intensive parent interaction. Results from the Newton program (essential the model program) show high levels of language skills, student achievement in the regular classroom, low truancy, positive self-images, and parental satisfaction (p. 140). Other necessary ingredients, according to Porter, are adequate facilities, high expectations of students, flexibility to meet the varying needs of parents and students. Other general education suggestions she makes in order for limited English students (and all students) to achieve their full potential include full year schooling and actively promoting college.

Some might criticize these programs as being based solely on upper middle class studies that would necessarily not work with lower class serving schools. Porter would respond that this biased assumption demeans the lower class individual abilities and could essentially work to be a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Throughout the book Porter makes it known that she believes in economic empowerment as a critical element of every individual, unlike Lane whose main concern seems to be more social and educational ends; possibly segregated economic ends. She firmly believes that in order to attain economic or even political power, a minority language speaker must learn English. Without it, they will be left out of high paying jobs and larger political associations. Although, Porter, like Lane, is fairly inflexible with what policy ought to be (as she promotes policy to be interpreted through looking at the letter of the law). However, unlike Lane, she still maintains respect for the alternatives. She does not demean them. She would however like to let individuals (or parents of individuals) choose the path for their child and not be limited only to TBE.

Although the perspectives of these authors are extremely different, they share some similarities. Both authors seek to provide the most effective means of achieving their desired goals. Both authors are also deeply concerned with the welfare and education of our children. However, most importantly, both brush over, but fail to truly emphasize the importance of full commitment of everyone in a child's education as a prerequisite to successful education. In fact, it might be in part the failure of traditional educator of deaf children to fully commit to helping the child grow that has undermined some traditional methods of deaf education (from which Lane may be drawing erroneous conclusions).

The conflict over Ebonics raises some interesting problems. It illustrates that Porter's views are not universally accepted. However, it also illustrates that educators do not base their actions fully on agreed upon facts (specifically, the failure of their assumption to be accepted that Ebonics is accepted as a universal, offical black language). One thing is clear, more research needs to be done on these issues, and motives should be clearly defined.    

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Date: Tue, 7 Apr 1998 23:15:51 -0500
From: John Japuntich <jcjapun@ILSTU.EDU>
Subject: Review:, Lane, (Japuntich)

Harlan Lane The Mask of Benevolence: Disabling the Deaf Community (Random House, 1993)

Reviewed by: John C. Japuntich 4-7-98  

DISCRIMINATION. When people think of the word discrimination, they usually automatically assume that it has to deal with race or gender. Race and gender are talked about and discussed about so much in our society today that those are the only two communities that are thought about. Harlan Lane, the author of The Mask of Benevolence: Disabling the Deaf Community, argues that there is another group that has been discriminated against for the past few hundred years, the deaf community. Since the 1700's, the deaf have been sterotyped similarly to that of blacks. The deaf have been viewed in a number of negative ways. Some common examples that Lane argues deaf people are called are disobedient, weak, failure, immature, suspicious, aggressive, lazy, neurotic, and irritable. This list of words is very similar in nature to the words that are used to describe African-Americans in literature around the world. The next question one would ask is why are the deaf viewed in all of these manners? Lane argues that members of the American deaf community are not characteristically isolated, uncommunicative, unintelligent, childlike, needy, or any of the things we imagine them to be. The mistake comes from an extrapolate leap, or egocentric error. People try to imagine what deafness is like, trying to imagine the world without sound- a very terrifying prospect, and one that conforms quite well with the stereotype we project onto members of the deaf community. If you think about it you would be isolated, disoriented, uncommunicative, and unreceptive to communication. Ties to other people would ruptured. So in other words, hearing people are ignorant towards deafness and the deaf community. How many people can actually say they are friends with or living with a person that is deaf? Probably not many at all.

Lane argues that being deaf is not a disability. That once one is deaf that he or she should live with it as if it were a normal part of their life. Why then is being deaf covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act.? So being blind or having one or no legs, no arms also is not a disability? The term disability is referred to the notion that one has a problem that prevents him or her from being totally productive in every day life. Yes, I know Lane would argue that deaf people can function fine in everyday life. But can they really? How many people in this country actually know ASL or American Sign Language. Not even 1% of the United States knows sign language. It is obvious that a deaf person cannot function normally in our society. Lets just face the facts. I am not being discriminatory but stating the facts. For a deaf person to function normally in our society, most of the United States would have to know sign language considering that is the only way to effectively communicate with the deaf. Lip reading is also an option, but that has only a 30% effective rate, and not every deaf person knows how to lip read effectively.

An important and controversial issue that Lane brings up is the ear in plant issue. On June 27, 1990, the United States Food and Drug Administration approved a proposal by the Cochlear Corporation to market a bionic ear for surgical insertion in deaf children over the age of two. Lane argues though that this ear in plant really does not work at all and should not allowed to be marketed. Why? Well first off it is a very painful operation both physically and mentally. The device is literally in planted into the brain of the patient. Secondly, the operation is costly money wise. And finally and most important the operation is not guaranteed. The in plants have a better chance of working if they are put in a child born deaf because he or she would not know any better later on in life. The the other hand the will the typical child who was born deaf, or who became so early in life be able to understand ordinary conversation after undergoing the surgery and a lot of training? According to Lane probably not. Will he or she be able to speak intelligibly? Probably not. Will he or she learn English better than he would have without the implant? Probably not. Will he or she be able to succeed in an ordinary school with hearing children? Probably not. Will he or she then generally rely on vision rather than hearing? Yes according to Lane. So according to Lane the bionic ear does not work. Where does this research come from? Lane has the "weird" idea in his head that no child once deaf should try to hear again. It is the analogy that blacks use that once black one should never date outside their race, and if they do it is a disgrace. The same for deaf people according to Lane. Deaf people should be proud that their deaf and accept it. When a deaf person receives a reward and tries to speak when making an acceptance speech, then they should be scorned. Why? What is wrong with someone who has a disability to try to fit in with the rest of society so they can feel more comfortable? Why then do people get fake legs if they are in an accident? Should they just have one leg and be in a wheel chair for the rest of their life just because they are going against the "legless" community. No they get the fake leg to walk like everyone else in society, to fit in, and feel more comfortable. People that are deaf should have opportunities to hear, and speak if they can. My no means should they feel ashamed that they are going against the deaf community being a traitor.

The deaf have had a long discriminated past. In 1800, shortly after the dawn of deaf education in the French Enlightenment, Abbe Sicard, head teacher at the Paris school and author of the first textbook for systematically educating children born deaf wrote that: " such a child is a complete nonentity in society, a living machine, a statue.... He does not even possess animal instincts....His mind is empty....The moral world does not exist for him. Virtue and Vice are unreal." So indeed there is no question that the deaf community has been discriminated against since the 1700 and 1800's. The deaf really cannot have a "real" job in society because of the communication gap. But the real issue comes in when sign language was questioned. Even though ASL is now a recognized language in the United States, it had a troubled past. ASL was never accepted early in the late 1800's and early 1900's. At a conference in Milan in 1880, ASL was voted on and agreed on not to be used. Lane says," the meeting at Milan was the single most critical event in driving the languages of deaf communities beneath the surface; I believe it is the single most important cause of the limited educational achievements of modern deaf men and women." ASL became more and more popular though as the years went on but ASL has never been officially recognized as the official sign language in the United States. The Bilingual Education Act of 1968 says that children are best educated in theirmost fluent language. Laws in most states required that schools with more than a certain percentage of children whose primary language is Navajo, Chinese, etc. must offer a portion of their instruction in that language. But ASL has no official reorganization what so ever. Why? Two reasons Lane argues. The medicalization of cultural deafness, in which agencies support research and training for the education of retarded people but do not address the needs of the deaf people. Secondly, is the extrapolative leap that leads scholars into error.

In conclusion, Lane is an author who is very difficult to understand , and he jumps around from point to point, country to country, and time era to time era. His book is poorly reasoned and extremely boring. His arguments have no evidence especially when it comes to the ear in plant issue in the first chapter. The only points that I got out of the entire book was that yes the deaf are discriminated against, no in plants do not work, and yes it is a sin to try to talk or hear when deaf. I do not recommend this book to anyone who want to go through 200 pages of pure boredom. This book could and should have been about 50 pages, so it could of saved the reader time to do something more constructive.  

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Date: Tue, 7 Apr 1998 22:00:17 -0700
From: "Eric T. Knepper" <eknepp@ILSTU.EDU>
Subject: Re: Review; The Mask of Benevolence (Taverna)


>From: Melissa Lauren Taverna <mltaver@ILSTU.EDU> >Subject: Review; The Mask of Benevolence, (Taverna) > >The Mask of Benevolence, by Harlan Lane >Date: April 7, 1998 > >... > > The professionals who work with deaf people include teachers, >counselors, interpreters, speech therapists, psychologists, and others. >These people are there to help deaf people learn to read and speak just >like a hearing person. But, the problem is that deaf people do not want to >assimilate with hearing people.


>They want to use their own ways of communicating. Lane calls all of these >hearing professionals audists. The audist's job is basically to force >deaf people to be just like hearing people. He describes audism as "the >hearing way of dominating, restructuring, and exercising authority over >the deaf community" (43).

IN THE PREVIOUS STATEMENT YOU SAID THAT THE AUDIST'S JOB IS "to help deaf people learn to read and speak just like a hearing person" - ARE THEY REALLY TRYING TO "force deaf people to be just like hearing people"?

... LATER YOU CONTINUE... > > There is no indication that these devices are any more beneficial >to a child than if he or she were to be taught manual language by a deaf >educator. Also, most of the time the children are too young to make an >informed decision about receiving the implants. The parents make the >decision to have the implants put in their child because they are hoping >that their child will not embrace a culture that is unfamiliar to them. >Lane argues that any medical intervention on deaf children is not >necessary because they already have a language, a culture, and a history. > > The fact that cochlear implants are only in the experimental stage >is just one ethical concern. There is also the concern that the parents >do not know what the child wants. Parents themselves are often poorly >informed, and then they can not discuss it with their child. It should be >accepted that deafness is a culture, and no matter if or when a child >receives the implants, he is most likely going to rely on manual language, >not oralism. Lane state that "even if we could take children destined to >be members of the African American, or Hispanic American, or Native >American, or Deaf American communities and convert them with bio-power >into white, Caucasian, hearing males - even if we could, we should not. >We should likewise refuse cochlear implants for young deaf children even >if the devices were perfect" (237).






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Date: Wed, 8 Apr 1998 22:50:40 -0500
From: John Bevill <jbevill@FCG.NET>
Subject: Review: THE MASK OF BENEVOLENCE (Siders)

Harlan Lane, THE MASK OF BENEVOLENCE: DISABLING THE DEAF COMMUNITY (Vintage Books, 1993) Review by: Fran Siders 4-9-98

How many times have you wished for just a few minutes of peace and quiet? Now, imagine you get the quiet that you so wanted, but there is a catch, you are deaf. You will not be woken in the morning by birds chirping and singing and forget the alarm clock, you will never need one again. This probably was not what you had in mind when you wished for quiet and would probably do whatever possible to be able to hear the birds and, believe it or not, the alarm clock again. If your child was living in this silent world, would you want to bring the simple sounds of everyday life to them? Would you want them to be able to hear the birds chirping and singing, the sound of the rain falling on the roof, and the million of other things we take for granted every day? I know I would. According to Harlan Lane, this would be the worse thing you could ever do for a deaf child.

According to Harlan Lane, the American deaf community views being deaf, not as a disability, but as a way of life. Members of the deaf community view the arrival of a deaf child in their community as a blessing and joy, not as a disability or tragedy as hearing parents do. "Hearing-impaired" is a derogatory way to refer to a member of the deaf community and is seen as trying to fit into the hearing world, which is impossible. Deaf refers to a shared language, experience, and culture whereas "hearing-impaired" refers to a physical defect that someone outside of the deaf community possesses. Not only does the deaf community have their own language, but they also have plays that relate to the hardships faced by deaf people. Although, learning anything about the deaf community and their culture was next to impossible in the book. Other than stressing the difference in the language, there was only a few scattered sentences throughout the book about the deaf community. Their language is mangled or ignored by educators. Deaf people are not taught their history. Their dignity as deaf people is taken from them by otologists and audiologists who insist that deafness is an illness and perform surgery on deaf children to change it. Education and medicine declare their social organization and mores inappropriate and obsolete. Hearing experts disempower deaf leaders in the areas most important to them.

"Audism" is the corporate institution for dealing with deaf people by making statements about them, describing them, governing where they should go to school, authorizing views of them, and dictating where they should live. Audism is the hearing way of dominating, restructuring, and exercising control. Audists include the administrators of schools for deaf children and training programs for deaf adults, teachers of the deaf, interpreters, and some speech therapists, audiologists, psychologists, librarians, social workers, researchers, psychologists, and hearing aid specialists. Audism seeks to recast stereotypes, as science, that blames the victims, the deaf person, to obscure the failing and self-interests of the audist establishment. Researchers conduct studies that prove consistent with prevailing educational policy and may even have the purpose of legitimizing those policies. Audism and the strong feeling against it were presented in a one sided argument. Reading through this argument was extremely boring. A stronger argument against the audism would have been strong if Lane would have presented the other side as well. Many hearing people write many articles about deaf people, ironically pointed out by Lane who is not deaf.

Hearing parents of deaf children are given bad advice by the experts whom many times ignore their wishes if they are different. Often hearing parents are advised not to let their deaf child learn American Sign Language (ASL). The fortunate ten percent of deaf children who have learned ASL as a native language from their parents are also the children who do best in mainstream or residential schools. The experts withhold this and other information from parents, present major issues as minor, limit topics on which parents can have a say, identify the sources of the problem as the child and not the school, and choose the time, place, language, and manner in which the discussion is conducted. Some parents who wish their deaf child to be educated in ASL have managed to out smart the system. The parents will intentionally move into a district where ASL is prohibited to enable them to receive support to send their child to a school for the deaf instead of mainstreaming them into the hearing school. Hearing parents of deaf children do not realize that there is a deaf community in America that has over a million members. Those parents should take the time to learn and should do everything possible to let their child learn and become part of that community. The parents should let their child spend time with other deaf adults so the child can learn from them. If parents refuse to do this, they send the message that deaf people have no place in this world. Only deaf adults can provide the best language model, convey a sense of the hearing world from the deaf perspective, and teach the child how to deal with the hearing world while remaining a proud, informed deaf person. To illustrate his point, hearing parents who have a deaf child are compared with white children who adopt a black child. Both children are stigmatized in their culture and the parents cannot provide the child with a sense of his or her own identity as a member of a minority, with pride in that identity and heritage, and with a knowledge of how to thrive while a member of a stigmatized minority. Lane believes placing deaf children in the company of deaf adults is the only way to achieve this pride and knowledge. In some cases, this may be true, but if parents take the time and make the effort to learn their child’s culture with them together they can learn from each other. When the parents make the effort and take the time, the children know they are not the only people in the world who are deaf.

The Bilingual Education Act provides funding for a wide variety of programs promoting the use of minority languages in schools. The federal government has an obligation to help children from language minorities in acquiring equal access to education and mastering English. This instruction includes many components. Academic subjects taught in the pupil’s primary language, English taught as a second language, and the history, culture, and language arts of the student’s minority-language group are taught. In LAU V. NICHOLS, the Supreme Court decided that the Civil Rights Acts of 1964 required local school authorities who received federal financial aid to provide special instruction to students from language minorities. The Equal Educational Opportunity Act, passed by Congress in 1974, requires local authorities to take appropriate action to overcome language obstacles that slow down equal participation in the instructional program. In RIOS V. REED, the Supreme Court ruled that the Civil Rights Act, the Equal Educational Opportunity Act, and other law mandated teaching children with limited English proficiency subject matter in their native tongue by competent teacher and suggested the requirement of a bicultural component as a psychological support to the subject matter instruction. A United Nations report recognized the legitimacy of the signed languages as linguistic systems and that they should be accorded the same status as other languages. These statutes and related cases should and do extend protection of language minorities to children who belong to the ASL-speaking minority. Deaf community’s legal advocates have been negligent in working with parents of ASL-using children to demand in court the same access to education for their children as that according to Spanish-speaking children. One reason this demand for equal treatment under the laws has been delayed is that most parents of deaf children do not share their child’s unique linguistic and cultural heritage and do not realize how much that heritage has to offer to the child’s development.

The educational system fails to educate deaf children. The teachers treat deaf children as intellectually handicapped. The educational system denies the children the use of the primary, manual language making them illiterate in the national language by shutting off the most effective strategy for teaching them a second language in school. Deaf children are taught English fundamentally as mentally retarded children. The educational programs seen to reflect more the needs of the hearing teacher than the deaf students. According to Lane, the answer to the problems with the educational system would be to place more deaf teachers into the schools. Only one tenth of the teachers were deaf and were assigned to work with multiply handicapped children. The deaf teachers were forced into retirement and the audist establishment refuses to educate or hire deaf teachers.

Lane takes a firm and uncompromising position against cochlear implants. Jean-Marc Itard was the resident physician of the Paris school for deaf children in 1835, and several examples of his "treatment" were given as an explanation of the lengths that the audist establishment will go to destroy the deaf culture. "Treatments" consisted of applying electricity to the ears of pupils, placing leeches on the pupils’ necks, placing a bandage soaked in a blistering agent on the ear, and fracturing their skulls just behind the ear with a hammer. A couple of pages later, the troubles with cochlear implants are described. The cochlear implant recipient runs the usual medical risks associated with general anesthesia and surgery. One child in thirty develops complications such as, pain, drainage, slow healing, or infection. The electrode could be displaced or misplaced in the ear and there have been reports of facial never damage that occurred during the surgery. The implant, at the time the book was wrote, approved for children by the FDA had many more external parts than the typical hearing aid and was much more visible. An earpiece that contains a microphone is attached by one wire to a transmitter containing a magnet that holds it in place over the coil implanted under the skin behind the ear. Another wire hangs loosely down to the chest or waist where it is connected to an electronic circuit in a box about the size of a pack of cigarettes. This is the speech processor selects the parts of the sound wave usually most useful for understanding speech and sends them over the wire to the earpiece and on to the transmitting coil. The transmitting coil sends electromagnetic waves across the skin and are detected by the internal coil. The inner coil sends the signal along the wire to the appropriate electrodes in the inner ear. Itard’s "treatments" in no way resemble the cochlear implants, as Lane would have one believe. The cochlear implants are viewed with the same disdain and contempt.

Some deaf children choose not to wear the outer equipment once they become teenagers. According to Lane, this is to be cheered, but at least these children have the option. Parents who choose to have this procedure performed on their children are repeatedly belittled by Lane. Most parents are willing to do whatever is necessary to ensure that their children have the best life possible. Lane feels as if these parents do not have the right to try to make their child’s life a little easier or better. Deaf children do not have the right to hear the birds sing or hear the rain fall on the roof. Parents should let the child grow older and choose if they want to have the implants. The FDA approved early implants with the hope that learning to speak and hear the language would be easier and because the implants would be more effective the early they are inserted. Some children might lose the option of wearing the "equipment" if they had to wait until they were older.  

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Date: Wed, 8 Apr 1998 23:59:37 -0500
From: Danielle Skrodal <dcskrod@ILSTU.EDU>
Subject: Review: THE MASK OF BENEVOLENCE (Skrodal)

Lane, Harlan. THE MASK OF BENEVOLENCE. Vintage Books: New York, 1992

Reviewed by: Danielle Skrodal E-mail: dcskrod@ilstu.edu

When one thinks of minority groups in the United States, instantly African Americans or Hispanic Americans come to mind. Now there is another minority emerging, a linguistic minority, which is the deaf community. In THE MASK OF BENEVOLENCE, Harlan Lane discusses many issues concerning the prejudices of the hearing community against the deaf community. He essentially attacks every way the deaf community is treated by the hearing world.

Lane states that deafness is a way of life, not a disability. He feels that deaf people should be treated like people of other cultures because they have their own language, American Sign Language (ASL) and their own culture. The deaf have even had their own revolution of sorts. Lane calls the Gallaudet Revolution of 1988 "the most significant event in contemporary deaf history." It all started when Gallaudet University was searching for a new president. Two deaf and one hearing candidate were the final candidates. The selection committee was comprised of 17 hearing and 4 deaf people. In the end, the committee chose the hearing candidate, Dr. Elizabeth Zinser. The chairman of the board later stated that they had not picked a deaf candidate because "deaf people are incapable of functioning in a hearing world." The next school day, the students had blocked all entrances to the campus with buses that they wired and deflated the tires. They held rallies to get a deaf president put in. Later in the week Dr. Zinser resigned. The board then appointed the Gallaudet's first deaf president, Dr. I. King Jordan and reconstituted the board to be made up of a deaf majority. This truly illustrates the power of the deaf community.

One interesting point that was brought up on the issue of disability is that the deaf are covered under the 1991 Americans with Disabilities Act. Lane doesn't really tackle this issue. He quotes how the Massachusetts Deaf Community News explained the issue, "Deaf people are defined as disabled for purposes of the ADA." It is kind of ironic that the deaf insist they are not disabled, yet insist on being covered by the ADA.

If you ask deaf adults how they were labeled handicapped or disabled, they will tell you from the infirmity model created by pediatricians and otologists, according to Lane. The professionals tend to medicalize the differences by overstating about "impairment of spoken language, while little may be said about the acquisition of ASL." The professionals are poorly informed about the deaf community, which is also part of the reason the parents of these children are ill informed of any alternatives.

Lane spends a great deal of time comparing the deaf community to the colonized people of Africa. He has two tables comparing characteristics associated with Africans and deaf people found in professional literature. The list was often inconsistent because the deaf were described as being aggressive and submissive. The list was consistent in containing all negative characteristics for both groups. Lane says, "Africans and deaf people appear to have one more thing in common: they are incompetent socially, cognitively, behaviorally, and emotionally." He also compares the paternalism of the colonizers to a hearing paternalism over the deaf. He says, "Hearing paternalism likewise sees its task as civilizing its charges: restoring deaf people to society." I thought that this was a strange pair to compare. I would have never put Africans together with the deaf. In a weird way, this makes for a good comparison. Some of the points match up. Lane does cite some examples of the deaf moving up. In 1988, I. King Jordan was appointed as the first deaf president of Gallaudet University. Also, the United States Department of Education selected a deaf assistant secretary, Robert Davila.

Lane criticizes the deaf education professionals a great deal. He says many hearing teachers try to invent new signs with more of an English speaking order, which differs greatly from ASL word order. Many hearing teachers blame the deaf by saying they are intellectually deficient because they lack a true language. He feels that this is paternalistic because the hearing establishment is trying to impose their ways onto the deaf.

Even the hearing aid market comes under attack, which he claims is controlled by the hearing people. He says the average cost of a hearing aid is about $500, which makes the annual market worth a quarter of a billion dollars. Another half billion is added on after a client sees an otologist and an audiologist for a fitting. Lane says, "A hearing person entering one of the professions that serve deaf people is expected to take on a way of perceiving and relating to deaf people that operates to the social, psychological, and monetary advantage of hearing people." He is essentially saying that the hearing strongly believe that every deaf child and adult are in need of hearing aids. Lane disagrees because most children become deaf before learning English, so they do not get much from their aid. I feel that Lane is harsh on the hearing teachers and professionals. Sure, some are probably in it for the money, but I am sure there are plenty in it for truly wanting to help the deaf. He generalizes the whole hearing establishment, which is unnecessary.

Another area Lane feels the deaf are prejudiced against in is in testing. Many deaf people end up being classified as developmentally disabled because of the tests. Take IQ testing for instance, the examiner usually does not know ASL, so he/she is forced to pantomime or try to speak to the deaf child, which usually does not work to well. Lane says, "The manner of administering intelligence tests to deaf children can affect the child's measured IQ by fully 30 points." Another test they have problems with is the Rorschach test or the ink blot test. Clients are supposed to tell what the blot brings to mind. Another test is the Thematic Apperception Test (TAT), which consists of black and white pictures and a client is supposed to make up a story for each one. Lane says, "Many deaf clients, not understanding the instructions and limited in their command of English, simply describe what is in the TAT picture instead of making up a story based on the picture, as they are supposed to." Lane also points out that to take most personality tests correctly, one needs to have a tenth grade knowledge of English. He says, "Yet only one deaf student in ten reads at eighth grade level or better." This is mind boggling that these kinds of tests would be given to the deaf.

Lane explains how the American deaf culture bonds. They have their own successful plays and literature. They also stick together through the network of residential schools, deaf athletic, political, and religious organizations. Also, loyalty shows in their marriage statistics. Approximately 9 out of 10 deaf people marry other deaf people. They highly value their culture because according to Lane and deaf people, a hearing person who knows ASL can never become a member of their community because they did not grow up deaf.

A major issue Lane confronts in this book is the use of ASL and English in schools. He feels that deaf children should be taught ASL. One experiment he cites was done by Dr. Bellugi and linguist Susan Fischer. For the experiment, they had hearing children of deaf parents, who were fluent in ASL and English. They were asked to tell the same story in the two languages. They found that even though it took longer to sign, the stories lasted the same amount of time. This is one plus of ASL that he feels should help to be used in schools.

Another issue Lane associates ASL with is bilingual education. Lane states there are groups "lobbying for an amendment to the Constitution that would make it illegal to require the use of any language other than English." Already, 17 states have passed legislation similar to this action. I found this interesting, but I wonder if ASL would fall under the category of another language. Lane never clearly addresses it except for generalizing by saying minorities.

Lane says that ASL-speaking children should be included in bilingual/bicultural programs because they are discriminated against in monolingual English schools. He feels that better communication between the teacher and the pupil, improved English literacy rates, and a decreased need for counseling services would all be benefits for the deaf that could come out of this type of program. Although this has not come about yet, the deaf do have a university that Lane discusses a lot. Gallaudet College, in Washington D.C., was created in 1864 for the purpose of teaching classes in the their primary language, ASL, as well as the secondary language, English.

The most important reform needed in the education system of the deaf is to get deaf adults more involved as teachers or administrators, according to Lane. He says that deaf adults are the only ones who can provide a language model to the young deaf children. I strongly agree with his argument. I think deaf children need to see these role models first hand.

The cochlear implant debate is the final issue that Lane attacks. He argues there are many drawbacks to the implant. He says this sort of intervention is bio-power, which he defines as, " massive intervention in the life of a child in an attempt to impose the majority's language, culture, and values." The cost is another big issue. The implants are estimated to cost $30,000-$50,000 for the first year. He cites that many in the deaf community reject the implant because they feel they do not have a medical problem. Lane argues that the implant may be good for a hearing person who lost their hearing as an adult. As for children, it does not do much good because most children become deaf before learning English. He sums it up by saying, "So medical intervention is inappropriate, even if a perfect bionic ear were available, because invasive surgery on healthy children is morally wrong."

Harlan Lane does an excellent job of bringing up points of the discrimination against the deaf community. He really presents a good, solid argument. I definitely recommend this book to anyone who is interested in the subject of deaf culture. He also gives a lot of history throughout the book. Personally, I never thought of the deaf community as a minority group, until reading this. The only complaint I have is that he sometimes gets very one-sided. Throughout the book, he makes every hearing deaf educator and hearing parents of the deaf sound bad. He says they do not care and they are only in it for the money or in the case of the parents, they do not know any better. It made me wonder if he ever considered that there might be some people that are in it to truly help the deaf community. Also, he was one-sided on his stance on the implant issue. I wonder if he considers the possible good an implant might do.

Danielle Skrodal dcskrod@ilstu.edu  

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Date: Thu, 9 Apr 1998 17:29:38 -0700
From: "Eric T. Knepper" <eknepp@ILSTU.EDU>
Subject: Re: Review: THE MASK OF BENEVOLENCE (Siders)



Have a great day! Eric Knepper eknepp@ilstu.edu  

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Date: Tue, 13 Apr 1999 21:56:39 CDT
Subject: The Mask of Benevolence (Miller)

The Mask of Benevolence, Disabling the Deaf Community by Harlan Lane. Vintage Books, New York: 1992 Reviewed by Rob Miller

Lane’s book, The Mask of Benevolence, looks inside the difficulties faced by the American deaf community. He discusses the oppression encountered by deaf individuals both now, and through the past two centuries. The deaf are the subjects of oppression by both the well-intentioned, and the not-so-well-intentioned, according to Lane. They are stymied primarily by the education system, and are categorized improperly as disabled. Lane takes a firm line against those who are reforming education for the deaf, as well as physicians seeking a cure. These are the oppressive autists, and Lane believes that they are destroying the American deaf community.

Lane compares the American deaf community to the colonized peoples of Africa, specifically Burundi. This comparison leads the reader to the conclusion that Europeans felt that deaf people were as undesirable as African "natives." This, in the reviewer’s opinion, belittles the oppression experienced by African colonies. The plight of both the African colonies and African slaves is perhaps the most severe in history. They have been exploited and continue to experience difficulties unlike any other group of people in history. The author thinks that Africans’ treatment by colonial slave traders is somehow comparable to the treatment of the deaf. The author also asserts that the deaf community should not be seen as disabled. He believes that this categorization is unnecessary, since the deaf community has a unique language and identifiable cultural traits. The deaf community is not disabled, according to the author, they are merely different. They should be considered different in much the same way as we see other cultural groups as different. Attempts to define the deaf as disabled, in turn, has become some sort of self-fulfilling prophesy, however inaccurate.

The third primary theme of the book discusses the role of the education system for the deaf. He considers it to have evolved beyond its peak. The modern emphasis on mainstreaming the deaf, he believes, has prevented them from having the educational opportunities that their hearing peers have been afforded. The ultimate goal, according to the author is for sign language to be recognized under the law and taught in bilingual educational programs. This would avoid both the relatively poor deaf schools, and the poor quality education provided in the hearing schools.

The comparison between the American deaf community and the enslaved peoples of Africa is a clear and fair comparison, according to the author. He cites evidence such as "typical" descriptions of both Africans and the deaf. The author quoted a Belgian colonizer as saying of the African population, "The natives are children… superficial, frivolous, fickle. The chiefs are suspicious, cunning and lazy" (Lane, 33). The author uses several equally damning quotes regarding the deaf. Such quotes include that the deaf are, "Suspicious, paranoid symtomatology, impulsiveness, aggressiveness have been reported as typically of deaf adults,… More recent reports tend to confirm these judgments" (Lane, 35). These quotes are the basis of the argument. The author believes that these statements stem from other institutional problems. They are caused by testing problems (related to instruction translation) and the idea that both the hearing and the Europeans feel superior and paternalistic to their respective subjects. To the reviewer, however, and to many psychiatrists, the emotional problems faced by the deaf are reasonable. They are ill-equipped to function in an oral society. Without the capacity to express themselves to their parents, many teachers, peers, and spiritual leaders, the deaf have every right to have emotional problems. This key component of the author’s argument thus understood in another context, one must consider whether there are other aspects of the comparison, which are equally useless. It is this reviewer’s opinion that the comparison between the deaf community and the peoples of colonized Africa is inappropriate, although dramatic. One could hardly chose a more dramatic means of comparison, but the link is weak. The peoples of Africa were different, but the difference (unfortunately for the Africans) was primarily one of technological development. This combined with the self-perceived cultural superiority of the Europeans led to the tragedy that ensued. The African nations suffered throughout the past few centuries, and have had their culture institutionally discriminated against. They do not have a physical malady, as the deaf individuals do. They are instead, systematically discriminated against based on cultural heritage, and this has been the case for generations. The deaf community, on the other hand, comes from all strata of society. They may be discriminated against as a group, but the comparison ends there. The deaf may have the long history of institutional barriers that face the African community. They instead may come from an advantaged background. The deaf culture seems in many ways to be secondary to the rest of the societal advantages or disadvantages that individuals may face. Their difficulties arise on an individual basis, and are not the product of multiple generational discrimination.

The argument against viewing the deaf as disabled is an equally ridiculous view to take. The author believes that the hearing community is oppressing the deaf community by labeling them "disabled." He sees this as a negative and unnecessary means of description. It seems to this reviewer, however, that deaf individuals are certainly disabled. They have an obvious physical disadvantage when compared to the rest of society. Another student compared the lack of the ability to hear to a car without a steering wheel. This is an apt comparison. Deaf individuals lack certain abilities that most people have. They are at a disadvantage due to a physical imperfection. This can be appropriately compared to the inability to see or walk. In all three cases special adjustments must be made to accommodate the physical character of the individuals concerned. The blind need Braille, just as the deaf need sign language to communicate. These seem completely similar. The author does not challenge the disability of the blind, however. The inability to walk is another disability comparable to deafness. If an individual is unable to walk, others must make special accommodations for those confined to wheelchairs. In all three cases the disabled individual first, has a physical abnormality, second, cannot participate fully in society due to the physical difference, and third, must receive special accommodations to function on an equal level. The comparisons seem fair, but the author disagrees.

The most important variable for the deaf, in the author’s view, is their education opportunities. He sees the education of the deaf as not merely benignly inadequate, but malignantly construed. The author sees the changes made in the education of the deaf as arising from the negative attitudes that many have concerning the deaf. He sets the educational history as having moved through stages. It moved through oralism, day schools, English dominance, mainstreaming, to surgery. Each stage is not a genuine attempt to assist the deaf, instead each is a worse aberration than the former. The culmination of the education system has arrived at the surgery stage. This stage refers to the current attempt to cure the deaf. It is now possible to correct hearing disabilities in some cases. Similar to what we do for cataract patients, the deaf may now have their hearing surgically improved. The author sees this as a horrid conclusion reached by self-interested doctors and technology companies. Again, this dubious conclusion would not likely be reached by most people if they were aware of the possible remedy. In conclusion, it seems that the author has some stake in continuing the plight of the deaf. On the one hand, he compares their difficulties to the most emotionally extreme case imaginable, that of African slave colonies. He thereby asserts that the deaf are facing nearly insurmountable obstacles. On the other hand, he disapproves of most of the attempts by the majority of the population to assist the deaf in their struggle. He does not like their labeling as disabled, although it seems appropriate, and allows them privileges that others do not enjoy. He also sees the attempts by both parents and physicians as not only inadequate, but destructive. If the hearing community’s assistance is so inept, what are we to do, Dr. Lane?  

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Date: Thu, 15 Apr 1999 13:12:12 -0700
From: Robert Taylor <fire710@YAHOO.COM>
Subject: Lane, Mask of Benevolence. Reviewd by Robert Taylor, ISU

Lane, Harlan: “The Mask of Benevolence: Disabling the Deaf Community”. Vintage Press, New York, 1992. Reviewed by Robert W. Taylor, rwtayl2@ilstu.edu  

What would you do if you found that your two-year-old son was Deaf? Would you try to have his hearing “fixed” or would you send him for special education? Would you learn how to communicate with him with sign language, or would you try to raise him like a normal little boy, speaking to him, hoping that his hearing returned? There are so many questions. In Harlan Lane’s book “Disabling the Deaf Community,” the deaf community is looked at closely, but more importantly he looks at how the hearing community has disabled the deaf people in our country.

Harlan starts the book by talking about the introduction of the cochlear implant, designed to give completely deaf people the chance of regaining their hearing. This was at the time of the publishing a radical surgery that was only effective in at the most 20% of all patients. But Lane goes on to show how this surgery has added to the disabling of the deaf community. The FDA approved the usage of cochlear implants without even considering the implications on the quality of life for the patients. The FDA has been charged with violation of ethics in the passage of the implants into availability. Not once was any deaf scholar or professional consulted about the usage of the implants. This is important because the learning tactics for the deaf vary from the tactics of the hearing students. People also charge that the implanting of children falls on the shoulders of the parents or guardians. The child is never able to give informed consent for a procedure that may be of no use for them.

Teaching someone to learn how to hear when he or she are used to not hearing is a great feat. Then come the problems of learning to read and speak. This can be a bit traumatic for the student and frustrating to the teacher. If you ask a deaf person how they perceive their quality of life, they will probably tell you much better than they believe hearing people’s lives are; yet we as hearing people don’t see it that way. For the past 200 years we have been basically the oppressors of the deaf in America. We consider deaf people to be disabled, where they would not see it that way. For people who are born deaf they learn to live with the missing sense, for you really can’t miss something you never had. Arguing that this is not a disability, they can argue we don’t believe those persons born gay are disabled, but they are different from mainstream America and are missing something, which is the desire to be life mates with a member of the opposite sex. What changes the situation so much between the two situations? The author would suggest the fact that communication between hearing and deaf is so difficult.

Looking at the educational background of deaf children, the author shows that deaf children are more likely to be branded as disorderly, as well as less intelligent than hearing children, yet the blame for this may lie in the educational system itself. It is very difficult to teach a deaf student to read, as well as trying to get a deaf student to follow directions that are given with the spoken word. When given IQ tests, deaf students do poorer than the hearing students do. The same test however, given to a hearing student in pantomime shows an average decrease of five points. Therefore the author argues that if the students were to be taught their lessons from a person who was trained to talk with them in a language they understand, then the test scores would improve. This brings us to the discussion of ASL, or American Sign Language. Most every country in the civilized world has a form of sign language for their country. The one used in America is the ASL. When looked at as a foreign language, it is the second most used language in the United States after English! Despite this fact, the governments throughout the United States, including the federal government itself, refused to acknowledge ASL as a language. The Bilingual Education act of 1968 gave rights to students to be taught in their native language with the goal of learning English as a second language. ASL however does not have as its goals to teach a deaf student to speak. In fact, the deaf community takes offense to those who are deaf who do speak, thinking that they are not completely within the deaf community. Until recently, those deaf students who were not sent to a private school for the deaf were taught in the public school in English, naturally setting them back in their quest for education. Slowly though, ASL teachers are instructing the deaf students. Although the literacy rate for these students is lower, the education that they are getting is much better now than when they had no instructors that were able to speak in their language.

One might ask how the government finally came around to bringing ASL back to the schools. A few years ago, UNESCO came together with a conference on the education of deaf children. They concluded that deaf adults have a major role in the education of the deaf children. They states that this would give the children positive role models, and schools would turn from speech clinics to educational institutions (p176). This again brought up the need for the Bilingual Education Act to include ASL as a language. This was presented to many school districts and to the government. It was hard, however, to go to Congress and say that deaf people were not disabled but equal when the deaf community pushed for the passing of the ADA with deaf requirements. This weakened the stance of the deaf community. At some time, the minority group fighting for the rights may have to raise the level of their protests. This is just what the deaf community did. And they did it at Gallaudet University, the premier deaf university in the country. It started with the appointment of a hearing person as president of the university. This angered and saddened many people. Large groups of students protested and blocked the entrances to the campus buildings. The chairman of the university board agreed to talk with some of the students and had told them the college selected a hearing person because “deaf people are incapable of functioning in a hearing world” (p188). This of course enraged the students. The protest grew and spread over into the US Capitol building. Senators from all over spoke to the protesters, agreeing that the protest was correct. On March 13, 1988 the board of trustees appointed the first deaf president to the university, the chairman of the board resigned and the board was now made up of 51% deaf members. This is considered to be a major victory for the deaf culture.

Lane’s book was a great book. There was so much information that I had never even thought about in regards to the deaf society. I always thought that all deaf people used sign language and were taught with it. I also always pictured most deaf children being able to read. The book was definitely an informative and well written lesson that is worthy of all hearing people to read.  

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Date: Sat, 17 Apr 1999 18:24:39 -0500
From: Scott Berends <swberen@ilstu.edu>
Subject: Re: Lane, Mask of Benevolence. Reviewd by Robert Taylor, ISU

You mentioned that mainstream America does not see being gay as being a disability, is that because, as you think Lane would say, that gay people are able to communicate with the rest of society, or is it because much of mainstream America sees homosexuality as a choice?

I have to disagree that the cochlear transplants are a bad idea. While I would agree that the child should be consulted, if possible, in those instances in which the child is unable to make a rational decision due to their age (which may be all instances if cochlear transplants are most successful when done at an early age) the parent should have the surgery performed. Homosexuality is a poor analogy, but if a child were born missing a limb, or a tongue, any parent that was presented with the option of corrective surgery would have a moral imperative before them; namely that it is morally correct to seek the best possible life for one's child (when doing so does not violate any other moral laws). To deny a child an option that is even minimally successful, when that operation is physically safe, is just plain wrong. Realizing the strength of deaf people in their successes in mainstream America is a great thing, but if a person never had to work twice (or three times) as hard as their counterparts, that would be an even better thing.

Perhaps the FDA was out of line in approving the transplants without consulting any deaf people, but the FDA rarely consults with the people effected by all of its decisions. For instance, when approving a new flu medication, the FDA never consults with people who have the flu. I also do not believe that the FDA consults with cancer patients prior to approving a cancer drug; the reason, these treatments are voluntary and beneficial. If deafness is thought of as a disability, something to be treated and eradicated, then there is no reason for the FDA to consult with the recipients of that treatment prior to approving it. And if parents think that the quality of their deaf child's life will be improved by having a cochlear transplant, then that transplant should be performed. If the deaf community does not agree then their avenue of recourse should not be the government, but rather individual deaf people or their parents. While I realize that this avenue may be a difficult one to navigate, the deaf community has no right to dictate to all its members the desires of some members (even if those members are in the majority)

Scott Berends Illinois State University swberen@mail.ilstu.edu

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Date: Tue, 27 Apr 1999 23:22:20 -0700
From: Autumn Pemble <atpembl@ilstu.edu>
Subject: Re: The Mask of Benevolence (Miller)


After reading your review, I thought about the deaf community and how it is perceived in America. I do not think the old stereotypes of deaf people hold true in today's society. One thing I certainly do not agree with is how Lane categorizes deafness. I do not think that deafness should be contrasted with minority groups. These are two different issues. However, I do think the deaf community has a right to for their own subculture. That is fine. I think their survival depends on their own culture. I am sure I would be living in a different world if I were deaf. I think the culture of deaf people show intelligence on their part. I do feel that the deaf are disabled even though they have their own culture and function fine within it. Somehow I do not feel that deaf is natural. Your review gave me a lot ideas regarding deaf people. I have no friends or relatives that are deaf so I normally do not think about this group of people, let alone, their culture.

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