The Butterfly Cage

The Butterfly Cage

by Rachel Zemach
The Butterfly Cage

The Butterfly Cage

by Rachel Zemach


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A tender and perspective-shifting book that offers a rare level of understanding about the subtle and and no-so-subtle layers of internalized oppression and deep feelings and dilemmas of Deaf people, written by former Deaf teacher Rachel Zemach.

This mesmerizing, funny, and disruptive narrative invites you to be a fly on the wall in a Deaf classroom at a hearing school, experiencing the immense frustration, unbridled joy, and indelible humor that arise for Deaf adults and children in a hearing environment.

Rachel struggles with staff, administration, and aides who sabotage her efforts at every turn. The students contend with a principal who removes their textbooks, intercom announcements that are totally inaccessible and a system that renders them all defenseless against these dysfunctional and often absurd forces.

You'll meet seven-year-old Laszlo, the brilliant, language-hungry boy who will capture your heart, and the political, fiercely intelligent elite members of the Deaf community who rally to change legislation after his life takes a shocking turn at age sixteen when he makes a heart-wrenching decision.

In a series of short, distinctive chapters, Zemach shares her personal Deafhood journey, poignant scenes from the classroom, shocking individualized education meetings and their impact, and the larger political and historical picture surrounding Deaf education.

You will never be the same after you read The Butterfly Cage, intended to spark a national dialogue about the current state of Deaf education, and the lifelong impact of the language deprivation, oralism and audism that prevails in the majority of schools for the majority of our Deaf children, many of whom are unnecessarily set up for failure.

Who should read this book?

  • Parents and anyone in contact with Deaf people whether professionally or personally
  • Teachers, of any kind
  • ASL students
  • ASL interpreters
  • People who enjoy well-written, entertaining and powerful memoir
  • Readers interested in diversity, cultures or language.
  • The Butterfly Cage comes with ASL Videos (captioned) and supplementary materials for college-level class discussions/assignments. Book group discussion questions also provided.

    Product Details

    ISBN-13: 9781959804512
    Publisher: Unruly Voices
    Publication date: 04/26/2023
    Pages: 388
    Sales rank: 493,042
    Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.86(d)

    About the Author

    Rachel Zemach was hearing for half her childhood and Deaf the other half, after an accident left her Deaf at age ten. But it wasn't until much later, over a ten year period when she taught a Deaf class in a hearing, public school, that she began to identify as Deaf-with-a-capital-D. Incidents occurring in her classroom and in her interactions with the hearing administration and staff were often absurd, comedic and at times, shocking. The students were language-hungry, wonderful and smart. They-and their sometimes surprising journeys, particularly one boy whose story turned tragic-provided the fire and impetus for this book.
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