I had an interesting conversation several days ago about travel and maps. A friend and I were discussing a road trip when got out my 2004 jumbo size road atlas map book. And as we traced the route on the map we spotted names of important sites such as names of historical landmarks, schools and organizations, national and state parks as well.
When we came across one landmark, Susan B. Anthony’s house, we looked at each other as if we were thinking the same things. I bought up my immediate thoughts to her, asking her if she also thought our Deaf community and Deaf heritage sites were also printed in the road atlas map book we were looking into. She shrugged, I don’t know and then signed “maybe”.
We knew that Susan Brownell Anthony was a prominent American civil rights leader who played a pivotal role in the 19th century women’s rights movement to introduce women’s suffrage into the United States. Though I was thinking how could she be so much different from say…… from Laurent Clerc who had influence and extended the growth of the US Deaf American Community. Not only this but he also took part in enabling the world’s first liberal arts college for the Deaf, in Washington DC. Clearly Clerc’s unlike Susan B. Anthony, Clerc’s contribution is not limited to the US but worldwide.
Anyway our point here was whether there were any Deaf community sites such as schools or historical landmarks also stated in this atlas map book. My friend and I agreed to investigate together and found that the first US American school for the Deaf known as the American School for the Deaf in Hartford, CT. was not included on the map and neither was Clarke School for the Deaf in North Hampton, MA.
We moved to check if Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing located west of Washington DC. and the National Association for the Deaf in Silver Springs, MD. were not on the map too. We found nothing of them. The only Deaf landmark we could find so far was Gallaudet University also in Washington DC. Though Rochester Institute of Technology was listed but not the National Technical Institute for the Deaf.
We didn’t search any further for other Deaf Community landmarks in atlas. Though we did notice a number of Native Americans and also including African-American heritage sites as well as ethnic communities such as China Town and even the Amish community with a population smaller than the Deaf community also printed on the map.
Disappointment followed me because I felt that US American Deaf community sites and Deaf historical landmarks were not included in the same way as some other ethnic, linguistic and religion minority communities. The conclusion I could make out of all this was that the Deaf were excluded from the US American human and social diversity. I say this because we were simply not put in the maps.
And because Deaf sites are not included on the map, it reflects a fact that Deaf have been excluded in the development of maps with mapping agencies. In other words, having the Deaf community off the map is form of discrimination and marginalizing the Deaf community from society at large.
Others might disagree with my discussion and think that Deaf on map not be important. I seem to think the opposite. To me it is just as important as to include Deaf history in our American textbooks.