Janna and I are pleased to announce our latest book is now available for purchase from Amazon: American Sign Language Level 5: A Field Guide for Advanced Communication Techniques for People with Other Disabilities written by David Boles, M.F.A. and Janna Sweenie, M.A. — yes, it’s an eyeful of a title, but that sort of specificity is necessary for this sort sort of real life ASL field guide.
Nicholas Kristof wrote a fascinating couple of opinion articles for the NYTimes over the last two weeks, and the reason for some reader dissent and confusion in the first story appears to stem from a core misunderstanding — purposeful or not — about the image.
Here’s what Kristof wrote on February 22, 2014:
As an infant, Johnny was deaf but no one noticed or got him the timely medical care he needed to restore his hearing. He lives in a trailer here in the hills of rural Appalachia with a mom who loves him and tries to support him but is also juggling bills, frozen pipes and a broken car that she can’t afford to fix.
The first error Kristof makes — but has yet to apologize for, or clarify — is labeling Johnny “Deaf.” Deafness is a cultural condition from which one does not get “healed” so the proper term should have been “hearing loss” since the “Deafness” was not actual, but imagined, by Kristof.
The real outrage aimed at Kristof was not over his inappropriate use of “Deaf” — but rather the way some of his readers felt he was celebrating a degenerate lifestyle of poverty in this image:
Helen Keller — a Deaf and Blind woman who became an author and an international SuperStar against the merits of her monumental disability — is one of the most magnificent examples of the human spirit in the history of America.
I have defended the spirit of Helen Keller on this blog, and while I am a tremendous fan of her incredible mind, I’m not terribly interested in her sex life as a lesbian or not, or as the secret, fateful, lover of her teacher, Anne Sullivan’s, husband, or her role as the concubine of a local cub reporter who wrote about her early life and made her a star.
What does concern, and interest me, is the lingering slandering of her as a young child in her effort to write, at 11-years-old, a story for publication called “The Frost King” — that was too closely associated with a previously published work entitled “The Frost Fairies” — that she was accused of plagiarism that haunted and stooped her for the rest of her life.