Valente's new book portrays his life as a 'superhero'

The title of Joseph Michael Valente's new book reflects a distinction within the deaf community between those who use spoken language to communicate, referred to as "deaf;" and those ("Deaf") who use sign language and are recognized as part of Deaf culture.

Valente, assistant professor of early childhood education at Penn State, calls his book a "multilayered research novel," blending ethnographic research with a storyline about his own experience as an oral deaf child who was mainstreamed in public school. Personified as a caped superhero, the boy tries to somehow fit into a world with two very different viewpoints on deafness—the pathological view, which regards deafness as a physical disability to be "fixed," and the cultural view, which focuses on deafness as an integral part of human diversity.

Valente's young life changed when he discovered the power of storytelling. Words, he finds, help the young superhero's fight against the forces bent on "fixing" him.

Last Updated March 01, 2011