ORCHID OF THE BAYOU: A Deaf Woman Faces Blindness

Cathryn Carroll, Author, Catherine Hoffpauir Fischer, Joint Author ORCHID OF THE BAYOU: A Deaf Woman Faces Blindness

Fischer, who suffers from Usher syndrome, which causes deafness at birth and deteriorating tunnel vision, grew up in the Louisiana bayou with hearing siblings and parents who initially thought that she was mentally retarded. Here she presents a vivid portrait of the Cajun culture, in which her childhood memories are supplemented by research she conducted, and an even more arresting description of the Louisiana School for the Deaf, a residential institution she began attending in 1953 at the age of six. It was here that Fischer learned to communicate by sign ("naturally, the way hearing kids pick up speech") and become a part of the deaf culture. She firmly believes that deaf children benefit from residential schools and, more importantly, need contact with other deaf children to thrive. This memoir, which Fischer signed to Carroll (Movers and Shakers: Deaf People Who Changed the World), describes how her education offered her a link to everything beyond herself: "I learned not only how to read and write, but also what it meant to be an adult, and educated, and a citizen in the United States and the world." Despite the loss of her mother to lung cancer and her father's alcoholism, the teenage Fischer was determined to attend Gallaudet, a university for the deaf in Washington, D.C., where she obtained a college degree and met her husband, Lance, who is also deaf. Now, at middle age, Fischer, with her husband's support, maintains a courageous attitude in dealing with increasing vision loss that will probably result in total blindness. Her recollections—those of a resolute and complex woman—will certainly appeal to deaf readers, especially those with Usher syndrome. (Mar.)

Reviewed on: 02/19/2001
Release date: 02/01/2001
Genre: Nonfiction
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