Nora Ellen Groce

Everyone here spoke sign language : hereditary deafness on Martha's Vineyard

Harvard university press

Cambridge (Mass.), 1985
bibliothèque insulaire
N.E. of America
Everyone here spoke sign language : hereditary deafness on Martha's Vineyard / Nora Ellen Groce ; foreword by John W.M. Whiting. - Cambridge (Mass.) : Harvard university press, 1985. - X-169 p. : ill., maps ; 24 cm.
ISBN 0-674-27040-1
NOTE DE L'ÉDITEUR : From the seventeenth century to the early years of the twentieth, the population of Martha's Vineyard manifested an extremely high rate of profound hereditary deafness. In stark contrast to the experience of most deaf people in our own society, the Vineyarders who were born deaf were so thoroughly integrated into the daily life of the community that they were not seen — and did not see themselves — as handicapped or as a group apart. Deaf people were included in all aspects of life, such as town politics, jobs, church affairs, and social life.

How was this possible ? On the Vineyard, hearing and deaf islanders alike grew up speaking sign language. This unique sociolinguistic adaptation meant that the usual barriers to communication between the hearing and the deaf, which so isolate many deaf people today, did not exist.
JUDITH BAILOW : There used to be a deaf community in this part of the Island [Chilmark]. People didn't realize it, but they were passing on a gene that carried deafness, and several people in each generation were born unable to hear. Well, the community took that right in stride and simply taught everyone to speak sign language. Part of the American Sign Language used today may have originated right here. The books you can buy about that community are called, Everyone Here Spoke Sign Language, or John Neufeld's latest young adult novel, Gaps in Stone Walls.

« Touring Martha's Vineyard », Vineyard Haven (Mass.) : Bigwheel press, 1997
CONTENTS 1. “ They Were Just Like Everyone Else ”
2. The History of Martha's Vineyard
3. The Origins of Vineyard Deafness
4. The Genetics of Vineyard Deafness
5. The Island Adaptation to Deafness
6. Growing Up Deaf on the Vineyard
7. Deafness in Historical Perspective
8. “ Those People Weren't Handicapped ”

Appendix A. Oral and Written Sources
Appendix B. Perceived Causes of Vineyard Deafness


mise-à-jour : 21 février 2007