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How would being deaf affect your genealogical research?

Although none of my immediate family members have been completely deaf, many of us have moderate to severe hearing loss. I recently wrote about the challenges of disability to participating in genealogical research. Since we just finished the Family History Expo here in Mesa, Arizona, it reminded me of the difficulty of functioning in that environment if you were totally deaf. I had a hard enough time with my hearing aids and being only partially deaf. Very, very few of the presentations would have had any meaning at all to a deaf person without an ASL signer, assuming of course, that the person was proficient in ASL. I wonder how many of the genealogical terms are in ASL?

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Comment by James P. LaLone on January 26, 2010 at 12:14pm
Fascinating question. I think one stumbling block would be the spellings that names go through. Sounding out a name can often provide clues on how a name might be spelled or misspelled. If you can't hear how a name sounds, you might not recognize the (misspelled) name in some index or record. This is especially true for immigrants to the US. Polish, French, German names said by an English person would no doubt not sound the same and especiall spelled the same. I even took French to help me with my research. If you can't hear the name or at least not clearly, how would that affect your research? Am curious how deaf people get around that stumbling block. I work on Anishnawbe (spelled several ways) genealogy (the hobby part of my hobby). I do not speak the language, but have a dictionary. Sometimes it is just instructive looking words up. For example, many surnames start with a "Show" or "Shaw" but looking in the dictionary there are no words starting this way, they are under "J", so Shomin/Showmin are also spelled Jomin for which I did find church records. To me sounding out a name is an essential part of research. Jim.




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