Monday, March 21, 2005

A Town for the Deaf

As Town for Deaf Takes Shape, Debate on Isolation Re-emerges

IF the founders stick to their commitment to make the town equally welcoming to hearing people (they note that 90% of deaf children are born to hearing parents, for example), I can't help thinking what a wonderful thing this would be.

And nobody is more shocked to hear me say that than me.

It flies into the face of everything I've believed in up to this point. I have worked, personally and professionally, all my life to promote integration and fight segregation, even self-segregation. But there's theory and then there's one's life, and all I can think about when reading this is the inexpressible pleasure that would be living in a community designed to meet my needs as well as Husband's. To never feel self-conscious again about being deaf.

A town where the fast food joints speak sign, public IM terminals are everywhere and cash registers are not piled high with lotto posters and candy boxes, obscuring the price window... heaven :)

It's an incredibly seductive idea.

One which will fail, because I note there seems to be no economic plan for this town whatsoever. Other than service industries, what will all these good deaf and hearing people do for a living in Laurent, SD?

I have a sneaky suspicion that the developers are, at least in part, pinning their hopes on deaf tourism - that deaf people like myself who would no more consider moving to South Dakota than I would Timbuktu would instead spend vacations in Deafland. Well, it's an interesting idea, and I would, in fact, visit Laurent, but I doubt tourism would sustain the town.

It's one to keep an eye on, that's for sure.

Thanks to everyone who sent this article to me.



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