For hearing people only

Karli Dettman
I found the book For hearing people only when I was younger and overseas. The book helped me to better understand myself and the Deaf community. The book has a number of interesting questions that it answers. It tries to explain the questions hearing people often ask about Deaf people and Deaf culture. Some of the questions are fun and silly. Others are smart and outrageous. The author does not write about Australian Sign Language. But it is still a valuable book. I give it to my friends to read. I recommend this book and encourage everyone to read it.
Posted by: 
Karli Dettman on 09/03/2012
Two library book shelves.

All libraries should have this book.

I stumbled on this fantastic book at a book store in Washington DC USA in 1993 when I was about 25 years old. I was attracted to the bright coloured blue cover with sunlight yellow words. And of course to the title For hearing people only: answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about the deaf community, its culture, and the deaf reality. Even though I am deaf I was curious to read it to see what it had to say.

The book touched the core of my Deaf being. It showed the limited knowledge I had about me and the Deaf community. I remember I struggled to answer questions hearing people often asked. I felt exhilarated that someone, a Deaf author, had finally written a book that met a great need and was educational.

For hearing people only

The book answers many common, valuable, silly, outrageous, childish or smart questions hearing people often ask about Deaf people and their Deaf culture. In each chapter there is a question next to an illustration. The answer to the question is straightforward, well researched and one to three pages long.

I have had this book for about 20 years and I still loan it to Deaf and hearing friends. It's been interesting to receive their positive feedback. The book gave one of my Deaf friends a boost to his self-esteem. He now looks at his deafness under a new light.

What sort of questions?

Questions include I want to learn bigger signs. This is a question that makes me laugh as there is no such thing as bigger signs. Other questions include Are deaf people visually sharper than hearing people? and If ASL (American Sign Language) is the third most widely used language in the US why don't all universities accept it as a foreign language?

What sort of answers?

Recently I was curious to read the answer to learning bigger signs. The author went to a cheerleading camp and met four Deaf girls to learn the big signs the girls use for cheering. The only reason they signed so much bigger was so the audience could see them. It's the same principle of speaking more loudly so an audience can hear you. The author concludes with the advice that normal signing space extends from the top of the head to the waist and from shoulder to shoulder.

Book facts

The book is written by Matthew Moore and Linda Levitan. I have the second edition that was published in 1993 and has 335 pages. The book is now in its third edition and has been expanded to 724 pages.

The book was written in American English so unfortunately does not talk about Auslan (Australian Sign Language). But there are no big differences between ASL and Auslan structure, meaning and syntax. However the signs are different. At $35 US dollars it's not overly priced.

Who should read the book?

It is a perfect book for the doctor's waiting room and should be in libraries all over Australia. I recommend everyone read it including Deaf and hearing people.


Readers comments (1)

More than once I've been asked, "can deaf people drive?" The most bizarre question I was ever asked was, "do you think that the reason you are deaf now was because in a previous lifetime you were perhaps . . . not a very nice person?" The answer was easy: "no".

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