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Employment: Peddling

  • By: Octavian Robinson
  • In: The SAGE Deaf Studies Encyclopedia
  • Edited by: Genie Gertz & Patrick Boudreault
  • Subject:Physical Disabilities, Otorhinolaryngology (Ears, Nose, & Throat)

From the late 19th to the mid-20th century, one issue persisted in the deaf community’s rhetoric and strategies for inclusion in American society: the perceived problem of deaf peddlers and impostors. For deaf people, peddling refers to the practice of selling items of little value and inducing sales by capitalizing on the public’s view of deaf people as objects of charity. The Deaf community defines impostors as peddlers who posed as deaf people in order to elicit sympathy and swindle an unsuspecting public. Anti-peddling activism was a central strategy in the Deaf community’s efforts to achieve equal access to citizenship during the late 19th and most of the 20th century.

Deaf leaders asserted that the eradication of deaf peddlers, both those who were authentically deaf as ...

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