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May 26, 1989

Deaf in America: Voices From a Culture

Author Affiliations

University of Texas at Dallas Southwestern Medical Center

University of Texas at Dallas Southwestern Medical Center

JAMA. 1989;261(20):3036. doi:10.1001/jama.1989.03420200126052

Historically, medical schools have seldom prepared an emerging physician to deal with problems so fundamental as nutrition, much less such complex political and ethical issues as the subcultures of poverty, minorities, or the "handicapped."

Authors Padden and Humphries have undertaken the task of clarifying the cultural "uniqueness" of the deaf. Being deaf was regarded as a separate but very undesirable culture as early as medieval times, when "the position of the deaf was especially difficult because they were thought to be 'possessed by the devil' or, at least, morally deficient. The deaf could not obtain 'the true faith' since in the Holy Scriptures is written fides ex auditu (faith comes from hearing)."1

Although Padden and Humphries write with compassion and understanding, their approach is less rigorous than traditional approaches by cultural anthropologists or linguists, and this in some ways detracts from the structured scholarship that such credentials afford. The