Orchid of the Bayou: A Deaf Woman Faces Blindness

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9781563681042: Orchid of the Bayou: A Deaf Woman Faces Blindness

In graduating from Gallaudet University, finding a job in Washington, D.C., and starting a family with her college sweetheart, Kitty Fischer tacitly abandoned the Louisiana Cajun culture that had exposed her to little more than prejudice and misery as a child. Upon discovering that she suffered from Usher syndrome (a genetic condition that causes both deafness and blindness), however, Fischer began an unlikely journey toward reclaiming her heritage. She and Cathryn Carroll tell the story of her heroic struggle and cultural odyssey in Orchid of the Bayou: A Deaf Woman Faces Blindness.

“By this time Mama knew I was ‘not right,’” Fischer says of her early childhood. “She knew the real words for ‘not right,’ too, though she never said those words. I was deaf and dumb.” Initially Fischer’s parents turned to folk healers to try and “cure” their daughter’s deafness, but an aunt’s fortunate discovery of the Louisiana School for the Deaf would rescue Fischer from misunderstanding and introduce her to sign language and Deaf culture. She weathered the school’'s experiments with oralism and soon rose to the top of her class, ultimately leaving Louisiana for the academic promise of Gallaudet.

While in college, Fischer met and married her future husband, Lance, a Jewish Deaf man from Brooklyn, New York, and each landed jobs close to their alma mater. After the birth of their first child, however, Fischer could no longer ignore her increasing tunnel vision. Doctors quickly confirmed that Fischer had Usher syndrome.

While Fischer struggled to come to terms with her condition, the high incidence of Usher syndrome among Cajun people led her to re-examine her cultural roots. “Could I still be me, Catherine Hoffpauir Fischer, had I not been born of a mix that codes for Usher syndrome?” she asks. “To some extent, the history of my people explains the constitution of my genes and the way my life has unfolded.” Today Fischer prospers, enjoying her time with family and friends and celebrating the Deaf, Cajun, Blind, and Jewish cultures that populate her life. Her lively story will resonate with anyone who recognizes the arduous journey toward claiming an identity.

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About the Author:

Cathryn Carroll is the former managing editor of Publications and Information Dissemination at the Laurent Clerc National Deaf Education Center at Gallaudet University in Washington, DC.

Catherine Hoffpauir Fischer is a former librarian at the Model Secondary School for the Deaf in Washington, DC.

From Publishers Weekly:

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.
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Book Description Gallaudet University Press,U.S., United States, 2001. Paperback. Book Condition: New. 229 x 152 mm. Language: English . Brand New Book. Mama knew I was not right Kitty Fischer says of her early childhood in Louisiana. Even though her mother never said it, Kitty knew she meant deaf and dumb. Her communication difficulties were compounded by the bias her family endured for being Cajun. But Fischer excelled at the Louisiana School for the Deaf, and left her Cajun roots far behind for Gallaudet University in Washington, DC. After graduating and marrying her college sweetheart Lance, a Deaf Jewish man from New York, Kitty settled in, working as a librarian and raising a family. Eventually, though she could no longer ignore her increasing tunnel vision. Doctors quickly confirmed that she had Usher syndrome, a genetic condition that eventually leads to blindness. While Fischer struggled to come to terms with her condition, the high incidence of Usher syndrome among Cajun peoples led her to reexamine and reclaim her cultural heritage. Today Fischer prospers, enjoying her time with family and friends and celebrating the Deaf, Cajun, Blind, and Jewish cultures that shape her life. Her lively story will resonate with anyone who recognizes the arduous journey towards claiming an identity. Bookseller Inventory # AAH9781563681042

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Book Description Gallaudet University Press,U.S., United States, 2001. Paperback. Book Condition: New. 229 x 152 mm. Language: English . This book usually ship within 10-15 business days and we will endeavor to dispatch orders quicker than this where possible. Brand New Book. Mama knew I was not right Kitty Fischer says of her early childhood in Louisiana. Even though her mother never said it, Kitty knew she meant deaf and dumb. Her communication difficulties were compounded by the bias her family endured for being Cajun. But Fischer excelled at the Louisiana School for the Deaf, and left her Cajun roots far behind for Gallaudet University in Washington, DC. After graduating and marrying her college sweetheart Lance, a Deaf Jewish man from New York, Kitty settled in, working as a librarian and raising a family. Eventually, though she could no longer ignore her increasing tunnel vision. Doctors quickly confirmed that she had Usher syndrome, a genetic condition that eventually leads to blindness. While Fischer struggled to come to terms with her condition, the high incidence of Usher syndrome among Cajun peoples led her to reexamine and reclaim her cultural heritage. Today Fischer prospers, enjoying her time with family and friends and celebrating the Deaf, Cajun, Blind, and Jewish cultures that shape her life. Her lively story will resonate with anyone who recognizes the arduous journey towards claiming an identity. Bookseller Inventory # BTE9781563681042

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Book Description Gallaudet University Press,U.S., United States, 2001. Paperback. Book Condition: New. 229 x 152 mm. Language: English . Brand New Book. Mama knew I was not right Kitty Fischer says of her early childhood in Louisiana. Even though her mother never said it, Kitty knew she meant deaf and dumb. Her communication difficulties were compounded by the bias her family endured for being Cajun. But Fischer excelled at the Louisiana School for the Deaf, and left her Cajun roots far behind for Gallaudet University in Washington, DC. After graduating and marrying her college sweetheart Lance, a Deaf Jewish man from New York, Kitty settled in, working as a librarian and raising a family. Eventually, though she could no longer ignore her increasing tunnel vision. Doctors quickly confirmed that she had Usher syndrome, a genetic condition that eventually leads to blindness. While Fischer struggled to come to terms with her condition, the high incidence of Usher syndrome among Cajun peoples led her to reexamine and reclaim her cultural heritage. Today Fischer prospers, enjoying her time with family and friends and celebrating the Deaf, Cajun, Blind, and Jewish cultures that shape her life. Her lively story will resonate with anyone who recognizes the arduous journey towards claiming an identity. Bookseller Inventory # AAH9781563681042

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