This is illustrated by some recent issues. There has been controversy about Deaf parents who want to have deaf children (here). Genetic screening means that deafness could be screened out, but should Deaf parents be able to screen for deafness? And what about cures for deafness such as cochlear implants or recent developments in stem cell treatment for deafness at the University of Sheffield. Is this any different to attempting to to "cure" homosexuality or Barak Obama's story about skin bleaching in "Dreams of my father"?
This is not a rhetorical question. Perhaps it is different. The point I am making is that some Deaf people do see themselves as a cultural and linguistic group and libraries should provide for them on that basis.
One issue we discussed is whether there is a category of BSL "literature" that libraries should stock or provide access to? The Sign Bytes project makes the point that:
Deaf people who use BSL as a first or preferred language however are able toSign Bytes is providing access to information in BSL but these is a limited amount of BSL literature. One example is the series of videos produced by Deaf Educate .
access very little information in their own language. The reason for this has
not been any sort of malice on the part of hearing society, rather it has simply
been because there is no written form of BSL (or indeed of any other sign
I have a personal interest in this. My aunt Dorothy Miles was a sign language poet and playwrite. I am very aware that libraries have many competing demands on their resources especially in the area of social inclusion but I would like to see the Deaf community and their needs given a little more attention. I am hoping to organise a seminar to discuss this with the SINTO Social Inclusion group later this summer. If you are interested please contact me.
I have also produced a list of Deaf organisations and websites.