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Leisure and cohesion, 1945-1995
Author: Martin Atherton

Discourses on the social and cultural aspects of deafness emphasise the vital role played by deaf clubs in nurturing and maintaining deaf communities. Despite this, there has been virtually no previous research into the social and leisure activities provided for deaf people by the deaf clubs or the specific nature of deaf communal leisure. This book, based on an extensive longitudinal study of British deaf clubs between 1945 and 1995, presents the first detailed analysis of the social lives of deaf people in the UK.

British Deaf News was the major deaf newspaper throughout the 20th century, with deaf clubs reporting their activities and those of their members in each issue, providing a vital information and dissemination service for the geographical isolated pockets of deaf people across the country. Contributors shared information that was of interest to other deaf people and thus provide contemporary historians with extensive insights into the lived deaf experience that is not available from any other written source. The book outlines the volume and variety of leisure activities deaf people engaged in and discusses the vital role this played in maintaining and sustaining the sense of shared experiences and outlooks that are represented by the term ‘deaf community’. The book sets this discussion within a wider analysis of the role of leisure and sport in wider society, to emphasise both the similarities and the unique aspects of the social lives of one of Britain’s least understood minority groups.

Genetics, pathology, and diversity in twentieth-century America

Is deafness a disability to be prevented or the uniting trait of a cultural community to be preserved? Combining the history of eugenics and genetics with deaf and disability history, this book traces how American heredity researchers moved from trying to eradicate deafness to embracing it as a valuable cultural diversity. It looks at how deafness came to be seen as a hereditary phenomenon in the first place, how eugenics became part of progressive reform at schools for the deaf, and what this meant for early genetic counselling. Not least, this is a story of how deaf people’s perspectives were pushed out of science, and how they gradually reemerged from the 1950s onwards in new cooperative projects between professionals and local signing deaf communities. It thus sheds light on the early history of culturally sensitive health care services for minorities in the US, and on the role of the psycho-sciences in developing a sociocultural minority model of deafness. For scholars and students of deaf and disability studies and history, as well as health care professionals and activists, this book offers new insight to changing ideas about medical ethics, reproductive rights, and the meaning of scientific progress. Finally, it shows how genetics came to be part of recent arguments about deafness as a form of biocultural diversity.

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A window on the deaf world
Martin Atherton

5 British Deaf News: a window on the deaf world The existence of a group of people who identify themselves as members of a distinct community based primarily on their shared deafness is without dispute. The members of this community are geographically dispersed; there are no places in Britain where the majority of inhabitants are deaf. However, it has been established that a locus for the community’s activities was provided by the network of deaf clubs that were established from the mid-nineteenth century. In these clubs, deaf people were able to develop notions

in Deafness, community and culture in Britain
Deaf people as objects of research, reform, and eugenics, 1900–1940
Marion Andrea Schmidt

In 1927, the Clarke School for the Deaf mobilized their influential contacts to launch a nation-wide fund-raising campaign. The fund was named after the presidential couple, Calvin and Grace Goodhue Coolidge, who had lent their name and support to the campaign. In a period in which disability was often conflated with dangerous degeneracy, the Clarke School convinced prominent donors that deaf children were worth saving by science and progressive reform. While some of the Coolidge Fund went into building maintenance and scholarships, it was also used to

in Eradicating deafness?
Martin Atherton

2 Defining the Deaf community anD Deaf culture in Britain Public perceptions of deafness and deaf people have been (and remain) heavily influenced by medical views that promote the opinion that deaf people suffer from a condition that needs to be cured. This pathological perception of deaf people, reinforced by official acknowledgement of deafness as a disability, is indeed shared by many deaf people. It must be accepted that the majority of deaf people would prefer not to be so and view it is as a debilitating factor in their daily lives. However, for a small

in Deafness, community and culture in Britain
More than just passing the time
Martin Atherton

9 Leisure in the deaf community: more than just passing the time When I set out on this research, I was seeking to answer some basic questions about deaf people, their community and the ways they interacted with each other. I knew this interaction was largely based in the network of deaf clubs to be found around the country but there was little evidence of what these communal activities involved or what importance deaf people placed upon them, other than some vague generalisations. I believe I have now found the answers to the questions I posed myself, in that I

in Deafness, community and culture in Britain
The Royal Ear Hospital, 1816–1900
Jaipreet Virdi

A few steps from the vibrant and convivial atmosphere of London's Soho Square stands a plain, four-storey brick house on Carlisle Street where, in 1816, aural surgeon John Harrison Curtis (1776–1860) first opened the doors of the Royal Dispensary for Diseases of the Ear (RDDE). Believing that medical practitioners frequently overlooked aural ailments as incidental objects to other diseases, Curtis presented the dispensary as an approach for addressing a crucial social need, namely, the ‘problem of deafness’: how to best assimilate deaf persons

in Disability and the Victorians
Martin Atherton

3 The developmenT of deaf clubs in briTain The deaf community could not have come into existence without shared locations where socially isolated deaf people could gather and develop relationships based on common experiences and characteristics. As the previous chapter illustrated, deaf clubs have long been seen as the hub of deaf community life but little has been previously known about how or why they emerged other than that these deaf clubs arose from a number of local voluntary organisations set up to assist deaf people in their daily lives. In this chapter

in Deafness, community and culture in Britain
Martin Atherton

6 Communal deaf leisure in post-war Britain Evidence drawn from deaf newspapers shows that much of the social life of deaf people was communal in nature, it involved the presence of other deaf people and was centred on the deaf clubs. This continued a tradition of participation and choice in recreation activities that dated back to before the Second World War. However, these activities were not solely restricted to the physical premises of the deaf club nor to events that only involved other deaf people. Deaf club members’ activities were influenced by what was

in Deafness, community and culture in Britain
Martin Atherton

8 The leisure lives of deaf people in norTh-wesT england, 1945–1995 The range of activities constituting deaf leisure in post-war Britain is worthy of closer examination. This chapter will therefore analyse the activities of the 28 deaf clubs in north-west England as they were reported in British Deaf News. The social lives of deaf club members will be discussed in terms of their general leisure activities and by their involvement in a variety of sports. Because of the similarity of deaf leisure across the UK, factors such as choice and preference, motivation

in Deafness, community and culture in Britain