Hands & Voices Of Oregon


In the early 1990s, the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C., was preparing an exhibit called “Silent America.” It was intended to raise positive awareness of the Deaf Community, highlighting cultural and linguistic (ASL) aspects of the Deaf experience. Meanwhile, a number of people who were deaf or hard-of-hearing, but who were not living with those aspects of the Deaf experience, had a problem with the exhibit. From their perspective, it did not represent who they were specifically – listening/oral communicators. They resented what they perceived to be the exclusionary nature of Silent America’s point of view. Controversy erupted. Angry letters were sent between the signing, oral-deaf communities, and the Smithsonian exhibit planners. In the end, the Smithsonian scrapped the whole project. Regardless of what side anyone was on, we all lost that battle. As individuals who are in so many ways connected to each other through deafness or hearing loss, we’d had an opportunity to rally around the things that unite us, and show the whole world how we could come together as a community. Instead, we burned ourselves out in the same old, heated arguments over communication methodology. Hands & Voices is committed to supporting families and children, regardless of their chosen communication methodology. Our mission is to focus on what is important – what your family wants! We help to support you through the process because we understand what it is like to have a deaf child(ren).

Jenn Knopp
Positive Awareness For The Deaf