In this article, “The Deaf Body in Public Space,” Rachel Kolb explains how interacting with people who do not understand sign language could be difficult. With her hearing disability she struggled to communicate with her peers. Kolb further explains the different situations she has encountered with people and comments that are made with first intercommunications. Going further she also mentions how she struggles with two languages and two modes of communication.
First, starting with Kolb’s childhood she explains how being the only deaf student in her elementary school made her stumble across a few challenges. For instance, as 6 or 7-year-old in the cafeteria, one of her friends said it was rude to point even though it was not in reference towards her. Kolb was simply gesturing towards a mutual classmate saying, “My mom said so.” By her fellow classmate saying that, she went home to her mother to tell her and her mom responded, “Don’t worry, she doesn’t know the social rules are different with signing”. Eventually, a sign language interpreter accompanied her throughout the school days, and her teachers created a good working environment for her. Learning was not a problem for Kolb, instead it was finding a place to belong with kids in her age group. She had tried several times to
speak with them, and they often in return learned some sign language, but in the end she still felt alone.
Kolb soon felt like she was a bother to people when she simply was using her way of communication. But, looking back decades later she realizes how her childhood friend had stared at her with a sort of wonder. Sign language had challenged her friend’s rules of social conduct and it made Kolb seem ignorant in a wa...
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...rticle is about her it makes things easier. If I were to establish a weakness in this piece it would be the fact that this piece is strictly about her. Not to say it shouldn’t be about her, it would have been better if she interviewed people with the same disability as her and included them in the article.
Kolb’s piece is effective. Being that this article is based on firsthand experiences and you can imagine how it feel to be in her shoes. Perhaps she didn’t want to interview people because she just wanted to tell her side of the story. She does a good explanation on how being in this world and deaf makes you struggle but in the end she says “When I sign, when I use my body to communicate, it indeed elicits a different state of mind, one that invites and guides the physical gaze, but this need not feel discomforting or unwelcome” (The Deaf Body in Public Space).
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