Who is Edith Ackers?
All we know is that she is deaf, and her father, Benjamin, is one of Europe’s most powerful champions of oralism, the belief that deaf people can be taught to speak. Oralism is sweeping through late 19th-century Europe, threatening to overturn the lives of deaf people, and making sign language redundant. David Archer, a young English journalist, is at first convinced that oralism will bring deaf people into the hearing world. But the passion of deaf people and their defence of sign language convinces him otherwise. At a public meeting in London, Benjamin Ackers, a wealthy barrister and member of British Parliament, declares that oralism has restored his daughter to hearing society. With the help of some hearing supporters, Archer decides to track her down. But the immovable forces of influence, money and power produce an unexpected result.
“Uniacke wants to get across basic facts about the history of Deaf culture — including the very fact that there is a long standing history.
Beyond knowledge and understanding of the historical events themselves, this requires two things of Uniacke. The first is that he tell an entertaining story that will hold the reader’s attention without violating any known facts. The second is that through his use of language, he is able to evoke the spirit of the times themselves. He does both of these extremely well.” Mike Northen – Wordgathering