The Impact of Deaf History Review

A Window Reflecting Morning Light

Video Review by Chris Wixtrom     © 1999

The Impact of Deaf History
Keynote Conference Speech by Jack Gannon
International Conference on Deaf History
VHS, 60 minutes 1992 Sign Media, Inc. $29.95

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It's just a lecture, you might say. Just a man standing in front of a crowd, reminding the people of old stories they already know. But to this crowd at Gallaudet University, Jack Gannon is not just a man, he is a Deaf man, and a hero. He is the one who searched out Deaf America's past and transformed it into a thick book, Deaf Heritage (1981), giving them a chance to hold their own history in their hands, and feel its weight. He is the traveler who was welcomed into their homes. His are the hands that asked them about their lives, their thoughts, their goals, and his are the eyes that lit up at their answers. His is the smile that responded to their bittersweet humor. His stories are their stories. His language is their language. As Mr. Gannon stood to begin his presentation to the first International Conference on Deaf History, a hand reached up to remove the microphone (passing it to a voice interpreter) so that the speaker might freely express himself in the language of his people, Sign Language. This man stands very tall in the eyes of his audience. He inspires as he points to three light sources: a window to a cherished history, a mirror reflecting Deaf achievers and shared victories, and a glow over the horizon, hinting at a new day for Deaf people.

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