Employment: Depression and the New Deal

The plight of deaf adults, many of whom were unemployed or held marginal positions throughout the sustained national economic downturn, was anchored in new and long-standing tensions with hearing educators and employers who wielded extraordinary power over the schooling and work life of deaf women and men. Deaf women and men were constrained anew by widespread restrictive attitudes of government officials who excluded qualified deaf applicants from consideration. Deaf adults also worked tirelessly to educate reluctant private employers. Further, they continued a half-century of efforts to improve the academic and vocational instruction for deaf students in public schools. Leaders and students defended the use of sign language as a vital means of communication and sought to limit oralist practices that weakened, they charged, the standing ...

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