Seeing Voices

by katystreet

By Oliver Sacks.

This collection of three essays Sacks wrote about deaf culture and sign language has so many amazing stories and neuroscience factoids in it that I can hardly contain myself when I tell people about it. He talks about the history of deaf people being considered ‘dumb’ because they were not given the opportunity to acquire language, the strange and horrible history of deaf people being forced to learn to speak and denied the opportunity to learn and communicate with sign language, the fascinating phenomena of sign language being seated in the left hemisphere of the brain even though we generally considered spatial and visual tasks to be seated in the right, the way children will naturally develop a certain kind of grammar in sign language that doesn’t demand the sequential operations spoken language does… It is incredibly interesting and cool and a short read to boot. It has inspired me to try to learn a little bit of American Sign Language.