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January 26, 2006

Pair emphasizes benefits of deaf culture

From: The Grand Rapids Press, MI - Jan 26, 2006

By Julie Smith
The Grand Rapids Press

PLAINFIELD TOWNSHIP -- Understanding the history of deaf culture can help it move forward, says a deaf performance artist.

Mindy Moore was in Plainfield with her husband, Theron Parker, on Friday to perform in "Women From Venus, Men From Mars" at Northview High School.

Jeannette Johnson attended Moore's workshop and performance and said she wants more people to accept deaf culture.

"This is who I am; accept me for who I am," she said.

Moore, who teaches elementary students at the Texas School for the Deaf, said the move toward oral education over use of American Sign Language damages deaf culture.

She called the recognition of ASL by Bill Stokoe in 1960 -- as a language that has grammar rules and syntax equal to English -- a breakthrough for deaf people.

"ASL is a beautiful language, and the hearing people in America were trying to change that," she said.

She pointed toward the recent trend of cochlear implants, an electronic device that uses electrodes and digital sound processors to help the user hear, as another way that deaf culture, particularly ASL, could be dismantled.

On Saturday, Moore conducted a workshop titled "Meeting of Great Minds: Deaf History and Humorous Deaf Culture" at the offices of DEAF, Etc. in Grand Rapids.

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