Great History of Deaf Culture Book Recommendations

These books are absolutely necessary to learn about Deaf culture!

There is no way that we can teach you everything you need to know about the history of Deaf culture and Deaf culture on this website. You can read our Deaf Culture page, but that doesn’t hold a candle to everything you can learn from these books.

The experiences of Deaf people in these books that we recommend are more than we could ever offer you.

We have searched and searched for the best Deaf culture and history of Deaf culture books for you to learn from. We have checked them out and read their reviews. There are so many to choose from, but they are all so different!

We highly recommend all of the Deaf culture books below.

Please note that when you choose to purchase through the external links on this website (in many but not all cases) we will receive a referral commission. However, this commission does not influence the information we provide in this site. We always give honest opinions and reviews to share our findings, beliefs, and/or experiences. You can view our full disclosure on this page.

The Best History of Deaf Culture Books

Don’t Just “Sign”… Communicate!: A Student’s Guide to ASL and the Deaf Community
We only share general information about the history of Deaf Culture on this website, so we highly recommend Don’t Just “Sign”… Communicate! if you are learning ASL. The guide includes all of the essential Deaf Culture information you need to know so you will better understand the Deaf community and be fully prepared to interact in the Deaf community.

A Deaf Adult Speaks Out
Leo Jacobs is a great author. This book is his account on what it is like living in hearing world as a Deaf person. This book is easy to read and covers excellent information about issues such as mainstreaming and how it affects Deaf children, total communication versus oralism, employment for Deaf people, and public policy in relation to the Deaf. We highly recommend this book to understand what it is like for Deaf people and what the members of Deaf culture value and believe.

Everyone Here Spoke Sign Language: Hereditary Deafness on Martha’s Vineyard
This is a fantastic book about the fascinating story of Martha’s Vineyard–an island where deafness occured in 1 out of every 155 people. This book includes a lot of fun anecdotes as well as serious insight into the world of sign language. We highly recommend having this book as a part of your collection.

Inside Deaf Culture
This is a fantastic book that outlines the history of deaf culture from the beginning of America to the present time. It is a fascinating look at Deaf culture and how it has changed over time as well as how it withstood the trials of hearing society. We highly recommend this book if you want to learn more about Deaf culture.

The Other Side of Silence: Sign Language and the Deaf Community in America
This is another great history of Deaf Culture book. It gives a wonderful unbiased look at both sides of the oralist versus manualist (speech versus sign) argument. We highly recommend it so that you can fully understand how and why this argument continues into today.

Deaf in America: Voices from a Culture
Deaf in America is written by two Deaf authors who explain the difference between “Deaf” and “deaf” more fully. They discuss the importance and value of American Sign Language and also go into detail about the different arts that exist in the history of Deaf culture. This is a more lively look at the history of Deaf culture and what truly encompasses it. Highly recommended.

American Deaf Culture: An Anthology
This collection is an invaluable resource. Some of the stories just talk about the history of Deaf culture in general while others consist of personal stories and experiences from Deaf people. With a variety of authors, this book is a great look into the lives of many Deaf people–not just one. We highly recommend it.

A Journey Into the Deaf-World
This book is a great introduction into the values and beliefs of Deaf culture and the Deaf World in general. We highly recommend it for any new ASL or Deaf Studies student. This book clearly explains everything you need to know about the history of Deaf culture, the education of the deaf, and the oppression that Deaf people have gone through.

TRAIN GO SORRY: Inside a Deaf World
This portrait of New York’s Lexington School for the Deaf is not just a work of journalism. It is also a memoir, since Leah Hager Cohen grew up on the school’s campus and her father is its superintendent. As a hearing person raised among the deaf, Cohen appreciates both the intimate textures of that silent world and the gulf that separates it from our own.

The Mask of Benevolence: Disabling the Deaf Community
This book is truly amazing and is a must-read for all ASL students and members of the Deaf community. This book does not sugar coat the truth about the oppression of Deaf people and the medical field’s view on seeing deaf people as disabled. It is cut and dry with its facts and research and how cruel hearing society has been to Deaf people and how they continue to be this way today. This book NEEDS to be a part of your library.

Understanding Deaf Culture: In Search of Deafhood
This book provides a different perspective on Deaf culture. The book assesses culture in general and applies it to Deaf communities. The book discusses the medical field’s view of “deafness” and contrasts that with the new concept of “deafhood” which is how Deaf people truly view themselves. We recommend this book for anyone wanting to learn more about the Deaf identity and Deaf pride.

A Place of Their Own: Creating the Deaf Community in America
Some books just talk about Deaf culture and how it is today. This book actually goes in depth and back into Deaf history to explain the trends and the changes that have taken place in the Deaf community. We highly recommend this book for anyone learning ASL and becoming involved in the Deaf community.

Deaf World: A Historical Reader and Primary Sourcebook
There is so much information in this book. It is a compilation of writings from many authors. The discussions covered vary from broad topics like American Sign Language and the Deaf community to very specific topics such as the employment of deaf people in entertainment, deafness among blacks, and the prejudice against the disabled. There is so much information covered in this book that it is a must have for any ASL or Deaf Studies student.

Open Your Eyes: Deaf Studies Talking
We also recommend this book for any ASL student. This book is another compilation of writings from many authors. They delve mostly into topics surrounding Deaf identity, how Deaf identity intersects with sexuality, family, gender, race, and disability, and how Deaf culture shows insight to issues of language, identity, power, and society’s view of normalcy.

Through Deaf Eyes: A Photographic History of an American Community
Through Deaf Eyes is an amazing movie that really goes in depth about the views and beliefs of Deaf culture and how hearing culture has affected it. We highly recommend the movie as well as this book for anyone involved or becoming involved in the Deaf community.

Teach Me to Love Myself: Memoir of a Pioneering Deaf Therapist
If you would like to really get inside the head of a very successful deaf person who did not see her deafness as a disability, but as a part of her character, then this is a really great book for you. Holly Elliott is a wonderful author and is probably the first professionally trained deaf therapist in the US. Her story is inspiring, informative, and really proves to the world that deafness is not a disability, but rather something that influences character and experiences. This is a non-fiction book that reads like a beautiful novel and we highly recommend it to anyone who would like to learn more about how pioneering deaf people live their lives.

Deception takes us on an emotional journey. In this powerful theatre-of-the-mind memoir, Deb Myers examines the devastating consequences of the sexual abuse that followed her life. At sixteen, after a break up with her boyfriend, she reached out to a much older married teacher for emotional support. Their friendship crossed the line, resulting in an affair that lasted more than two years. You will catch a glimpse of Deb’s early life as a Deaf girl of Deaf parents, along with the events leading up to the affair. Then you’ll witness the aftermath of the abuse – her plunge into depression, the incessant guilt over the relationship, and the lingering effects on her marriage. Yet, along the way, God gently worked through Deb’s life and lead her into the role of a pastor’s wife, the gradual strengthening of her marriage, and eventually, the painful – yet freeing – realization that the abuse was not her fault. The result is an uplifting story of God’s grace, mercy, and redemption.

This is a very long list, so we recommend only buying a few at a time. You don’t have to read them all at once! They all cover different areas and will take you a while to read and absorb. Reading even a few of these books will greatly increase your understanding of the Deaf.

If you have a favorite Deaf culture or history of Deaf culture book that is not mentioned on this page, please share in the comments below!

Don’t forget to read our Deaf Culture page for an overview of what you will be learning about in these books!

1 reply
  1. Michelle Jay
    Michelle Jay says:

    Here is a great review of Deaf Like Me by Thomas S. Spradley and James P. Spradley:

    from Rebecca Wenger (Pennsylvania): “Deaf kids are just as smart as hearing kids. With sign language, deaf kids can do anything.” Said by Lynn Spradley. While she can say that now, it was a long journey in getting there. Deaf Like Me is written in a story form that sweeps you into the traumatic experience of the Spradley family. Thomas and Louise Spradley are horrified when they discover that their unborn child is at a high risk of birth defects; all because of a deadly illness called German measles. Their suspicions are soon confirmed in little Lynn’s life. She is deaf. Profoundly deaf, even. Their life takes on a trying spin as they struggle to teach their young daughter to lip read and take on the language that they know. Countless hours and tiring efforts are poured into small Lynn. Her parents long more than anything for Lynn to simply be normal. Normal. But what is normal? When they lack the fruit of their investment, they begin to look elsewhere. The answer takes its time in arriving, but it does arrive. It appears in a special language known to many as American Sign Language. It’s their answer. Her language. And a life changing result. This book will help you understand the journey that many hearing parents with deaf children were on at one time, or maybe are on even now.

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