Renowned author and feminist Roxane Gay once said, “Books are often more than just books,” and at Inclusive Communication Services, we wholeheartedly agree! Recognizing the significance of representation, we compiled a list of cherished books featuring Deaf, DeafBlind, and Hard-of-Hearing characters.
Encountering characters who share your experiences not only anchors your sense of belonging but also nurtures an atmosphere of inclusivity. The presence of diverse representation in literature is vital, as it enables us to gain insights into different life perspectives. Here are ten exceptional books written by Deaf, DeafBlind, and Hard-of-Hearing authors that deserve a spot on your reading list.
Fiction/YA Books by Deaf, DeafBlind, and Hard-of-Hearing Authors
True biz (adj./exclamation; American Sign Language): really, seriously, definitely, real-talk. The students at the River Valley School for the Deaf just want to hook up, pass their history finals, and have politicians, doctors, and their parents stop telling them what to do with their bodies. This revelatory novel plunges readers into the halls of a residential school for the Deaf exploring the Deaf experience and the broader human quest for identity and purpose.
Lilah, straddling between two worlds due to her hearing loss, finds herself seeking change. This summer, she takes on a role as a counselor at a camp for the Deaf and Blind. As she navigates this new environment, Lilah encounters Isaac, a Deaf counselor who offers to help her with signing. Romance wasn’t in her plans, but signs seem to hint at a deeper connection. Anna Sortino’s touching debut unveils a poignant coming-of-age story, diving into Lilah’s journey of self-discovery while exploring the beauty and complexity of Deaf Culture.
Delaney Meyers-Petrov is done with being underestimated due to her Deafness. Her excitement surges when she gains admission to Godbole University’s exclusive program, aimed at mastering travel between parallel worlds. Despite her determination, the journey kicks off with challenges: unsupportive professors and an aloof upperclassman, Colton Price, intrigued by her unique abilities. Reluctantly, Delaney and Colton team up to unveil deep-seated university secrets.
Maya’s senior year takes an unexpected turn as she relocates to Colorado, leaving Pratt School for the Deaf for a mainstream hearing school. At Engelmann High, Maya encounters Beau Watson, the student-body president. While Beau’s ASL efforts intrigue her, Maya wonders if his motives are genuine or hidden. Maya’s pride in being Deaf clashes with Beau’s difficulty understanding her choice to remain without a cochlear implant. Their evolving bond forces Maya to ponder if bridging the gap between Deaf and hearing worlds.
Mary Lambert finds solace and belonging on Martha’s Vineyard, a haven where Deaf culture thrives, rooted in her lineage tracing back to the island’s first Deaf settler. This idyllic existence is disrupted by the arrival of a scientist fixated on unraveling the island’s Deafness mystery. Mary becomes ensnared in the scientist’s experiment, threatened by his relentless pursuit of answers. The story revolves around her fight for survival, against both the external threat and the shifting landscape that threatens her community’s way of life.
Nonfiction/Memoir Books by Deaf, DeafBlind, and Hard-of-Hearing Authors
Nyle DiMarco, renowned actor, producer, and advocate of the global Deaf community, presents an inspiring memoir that serves as a cultural anthem for Deaf identity. Born as one of Deaf twins into a deeply rooted Deaf family in Queens, Nyle’s remarkable story unfolds in this compelling narrative. This memoir explores his upbringing in a loving Italian-American family, his academic career at Gallaudet University as a math major and athlete, and his journey into acting on reality TV shows such as America’s Next Top Model and Dancing with the Stars.
The acclaimed and award-winning actress, unveils an extraordinary journey of breaking barriers and defying expectations, becoming an iconic presence in the entertainment world. Matlin’s story begins with her groundbreaking role in “Children of a Lesser God,” a performance that earned her an Oscar at a young age. Her life story unfolds, revealing her roles as a mother, activist, and inspiration to the global Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing community. From her early struggle with hearing loss to her Hollywood highs and battles with addiction, she shares candidly about her experiences.
Born with Deaf-blindness, Girma grew up with enough vision to know when someone was in front of her and enough hearing to know when someone close to her was talking. However, she had difficulty reading facial features or distinguishing people in group conversations. Relying on her own problem-solving skills, Girma overcame roadblocks while simultaneously obtaining her undergraduate and then law degree. As a lawyer and advocate, Girma shares a collection of vignettes illustrating the defining points in her life.
As a Deafblind woman with partial vision in one eye and bilateral hearing aids, Elsa Sjunneson lives at the crossroads of blindness and sight, hearing and Deafness, much to the confusion of the world around her. Part memoir, part cultural criticism, part history of the Deafblind experience, Being Seen explores how our cultural concept of disability is more myth than fact, and the damage it does to us all.
Mary Herring Wright recounts her experiences growing up as a Black Deaf person in Iron Mine, North Carolina, from the 1920s through the 1940s. Her story is unique and historically significant because it provides valuable descriptive information about the faculty and staff of the North Carolina school for Black Deaf and Blind students from the perspective of a student as well as a student teacher. Wright’s account is one of enduring faith, perseverance, and optimism.
Whether through fictional narratives or personal accounts, these authors shed light on unique challenges and triumphs that enrich our understanding of the Deaf, DeafBlind, and Hard-of-Hearing experience.
At ICS, these stories fuel our dedication to providing accessible communication services and fostering inclusivity. We hope you add some of these titles to your summer reading, book club selection, or back-to-school list!