The Art of Being Deaf: A Memoir

The Art of Being Deaf: A Memoir

by Donna McDonald
     
 

Concerned about aspects of her romantic relationships, Donna McDonald consulted with a psychologist who asked, “Your hearing loss must have had a big impact on you?” At age 45, with a successful career in social work policy, McDonald took umbrage at the question. Then, she realized that she never had addressed the personal barrier she had constructed

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Overview

Concerned about aspects of her romantic relationships, Donna McDonald consulted with a psychologist who asked, “Your hearing loss must have had a big impact on you?” At age 45, with a successful career in social work policy, McDonald took umbrage at the question. Then, she realized that she never had addressed the personal barrier she had constructed between her deaf-self and her hearing persona. In The Art of Being Deaf, she describes her long, arduous pursuit of finding out exactly who she was.
 
       Born in 1950s Australia, McDonald was placed in an oral deaf school when she was five. There, she was trained to communicate only in spoken English. Afterwards, she attended mainstream schools where she excelled with speechreading and hard work. Her determination led to achievements that proved her to be “the deaf girl that had made good.” Yet, despite her constant focus on fitting in the hearing world, McDonald soon realized that she missed her deaf schoolmates and desired to explore her closed-off feelings about being deaf.
 
       When she reconnected with her friends, one urged her to write about her experiences to tell all about “the Forgotten Generation, the orally-raised deaf kids that no one wants to talk about.” In writing her memoir, McDonald did learn to reconcile her deaf-self with her “hearing-deaf” persona, and she realized that the art of being deaf is the art of life, the art of love.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
03/03/2014
In her mid-40s, McDonald visited a psychologist for help in sorting out personal relationships and the psychologist asked how her deafness has impacted her life. Irritated, McDonald brushed off the question at first, but the more she mulled it over, the more she struggled with it. This sensitive and thoughtful memoir is her attempt to answer that question. Growing up in Australia in 1950s as the only deaf child in a family of five, McDonald did not consider her deafness to be "remarkable" but "just the way things were." She attended a school for the deaf until she was eight years old, when she re-enrolled at the local school because her mother wanted her to be "normal." Trying to bridge two worlds for much of her life, McDonald, who never felt defined by her disability, now realizes that she gained as much as she lost. Much of the book is devoted to McDonald's conversations with people who had a significant role in her life, but she also includes a thoughtful layer informed by cultural portrayals in both fiction and nonfiction that are deftly interweaved with moments from her personal life. Although there are segments that will tug at a reader's heart, this is no tearjerker; rather, it is a personal and informative look at "deaf lives as told by deaf people." (Mar.)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781563685972
Publisher:
Gallaudet University Press
Publication date:
03/15/2014
Edition description:
1st Edition
Pages:
224
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.50(d)

Meet the Author

Donna McDonald is Senior Lecturer and Convener of the Disability Studies Program in the School of Human Services and Social Work, Griffith University, Meadowbrook, Queensland, Australia.

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