Previous Page │ Access and Discourse (3 of 3) │ Next Page

Access to Family Discourses

Tension between acquisition of Deaf Discourse and family Discourses, both of which may be competing for the role of Primary Discourse, can be seen in an early portion of the literacy narrative of the deaf senior university lecturer who is listed as Anonymous. She recalls the strong oral tradition and hearing dominant Discourse of her Jewish family, who did not sign at home. For her family, the bat mitzvah was especially important, and there were certain social practices that the ceremony had to involve, including reading parts of the Torah aloud. Her parents sent her to Hebrew school, but she could not hear or understand the Hebrew language being spoken in the classroom. In light of her difficulties learning the Hebrew language, the rabbi assigned a canter, who would sing the Torah and help her learn the Hebrew language. Ironically, the canter tried to teach her through audio tapes. None of this was working, so she developed strategies for gaining access to the social practices that she needed to be recognized as part of her family's Jewish Discourse:

To this day, I look back and I think, well, you know, I didn't know any better, I was 11, 12 years old whatever so I went with the flow. But to compensate then, even though you know I was doing it with the audio tapes and all that, to compensate my survival strategy was to force myself to do all this reading, reading in the Hebrew language and studying and I did a lot of analyzing so again so I'm being sort of self-taught even though I had this one on one by this canter. But essentially for me to be well-prepared for my bat mitzvah I had to learn it on my own.
(part 1, 16:14)

In her case, her Deaf Discourse and her family's Jewish Discourse were at odds. Her family constructed their Jewish "saying (writing)-doing-being-valuing-believing combinations" (Gee) around orality and hearing, which their daughter had no access to. They sought a way around her deafness, attempting to provide access through practices that required hearing. Their daughter, valuing the family's Jewish culture and wanting to be recognized as belonging, as being fully Jewish, resorted to constructing her own means to access the Discourse through text and perseverance.

Access and Deaf Culture Access and Technology Access and Discourse
Jane Fernandes Jane Fernandes Brenda Brueggemann
Christopher Driscoll Warren Francis Anonymous

Previous Page │ Access and Discourse (3 of 3) │ Next Page