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Customer Review

46 of 47 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A revelation, 3 Jun. 2003
This review is from: Seeing Voices (Picador Books) (Paperback)
I once saw a documentary about a couple whose daughter was deaf, and they were agonizing about whether to go ahead and have a complex and risky procedure performed which might restore some hearing for their child. I couldn't understand why the father's brother, who was himself profoundly deaf, was so upset that they were even considering this operation.
Having read Oliver Sacks' book, I now have a much greater understanding of how intensely proud deaf people are of their culture. The book describes much of the history of the deaf communities' language and struggle for identity. It reads like a history of a nation struggling for recognition of its rich culture and language. The book also gives many insights into deafness and its causes too, and describes sign language as a fully formed language (or languages!), as rich as any spoken form, but with a quality quite different. It becomes quite clear in the book that deaf people don't necessarily consider themselves 'ill' or 'disabled', but have a human condition which is simply different. This is perhaps why the uncle of the deaf girl in the documentary was upset by his brother's actions---it might be perceived as a kind of prejudice.
I would recommend this book to anyone who is simply interested other cultures, or perhaps just curious about a different human experience which can't be fully imagined if one is not deaf, but still some understanding and appreciation might be gained.
As ever, this Oliver Sacks book is easy to read, like his other popular accounts, and he is not just a passive observer but has many personal tales of his contacts with deaf people, their views and his relationships with them.
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Location: Bristol, U.K.

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