The Deaf House

Author: Joanne Weber
ISBN: 9781927068496 Categories: Biography & Autobiography, Family & Relationships, Non-fiction, Learning Disabilities, Personal Memoirs
Publication Date: 1 October, 2013
Dimensions: 6 x 8.62"

“Being sometimes Deaf and sometimes Hearing, being able to speak well and not hear well, and being able to sign fluently in American Sign Language yet being unable to live in the Deaf community, tormented me for most of my life.”— Joanne Weber.
In facing her torment, Weber had constructed in her imagination “a deaf house”. There, deafness was a sense of personhood, not a hearing loss. There, language could be scorned and dismissed. Those who could not cope with the house rules became powerless people who were doomed to live in the attic or the basement. In the deaf house there was no dilemma of how to choose between adopting a Hearing identity or a Deaf one, because it was a place without such reckoning.
This is the story of how Weber underwent a radical change that would allow her to reclaim her life, her husband, and her future with her children. It is a story of shape-shifting, or becoming someone else by understanding the power of paradox and confronting the politics of language. Where once two languages struggled for domination in Joanne’s marriage and her family, she would adapt to controlling the struggle and understanding that her identity was not at risk within the struggle. But how she could ever explain to anyone, even her parents, that she liked being deaf and wanted to be deaf, would be an obstacle that few, if any, would ever understand.
Although profoundly deaf, she spoke fluent English with her husband and daughters. At the same time, she fiercely clung to American Sign Language in order to maintain her identity. As a young mother, Joanne became an observer of the intimacy between her husband and their daughters and witnessed the dominance of the spoken English they shared. As her sense of isolation built, Joanne separated from her husband and began the task of raising her two daughters alone This move ironically exacerbated the difficulty of living solely within the hearing world, especially in the professional and social arenas of Joanne’s teaching life.

About the Author

Joanne Weber obtained degrees in English, Library Science and Education and did graduate work at Gallaudet University in Washington, DC, where she became fluent in American Sign Language. She now teaches in the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Program at Thom Collegiate. Joanne and her husband live in Regina, Saskatchewan. The Pear Orchard was her first collection of poetry; The Deaf House is her first creative non fiction.

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