Orchid of the Bayou by Cathryn Carroll
A Deaf Woman Faces Blindness

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"Mama knew I was 'not right'" Kitty Fischer says of her early childhood in Louisiana. Even though her mother never said it, Kitty knew she meant "deaf and dumb." Her communication difficulties were compounded by the bias her family endured for being Cajun. But Fischer excelled at the Louisiana School for the Deaf, and left her Cajun roots far behind for Gallaudet University in Washington, DC. After graduating and marrying her college sweetheart Lance, a Deaf Jewish man from New York, Kitty settled in, working as a librarian and raising a family. Eventually, though she could no longer ignore her increasing tunnel vision. Doctors quickly confirmed that she had Usher syndrome, a genetic condition that eventually leads to blindness. While Fischer struggled to come to terms with her condition, the high incidence of Usher syndrome among Cajun peoples led her to reexamine and reclaim her cultural heritage. Today Fischer prospers, enjoying her time with family and friends and celebrating the Deaf, Cajun, Blind, and Jewish cultures that shape her life. Her lively story will resonate with anyone who recognizes the arduous journey towards claiming an identity.

About Cathryn Carroll

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Cathryn Carroll is Managing Editor at the Publications and Information Dissemination unit of the Laurent Clerc National Deaf Education Center in Washington, DC. Catherine Hoffpauir Fischer, now retired, was a librarian at the Model Secondary School for the Deaf in Washington, DC.
Published February 2, 2001 by Gallaudet University Press. 272 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Political & Social Sciences, Education & Reference. Non-fiction

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Despite the loss of her mother to lung cancer and her father's alcoholism, the teenage Fischer was determined to attend Gallaudet, a university for the deaf in Washington, D.C., where she obtained a college degree and met her husband, Lance, who is also deaf.

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