In 1979, as her great-grandmother shared the unique sign language she had learned as a child, Joan Poole Nash was helping to reveal a piece of Deaf culture and language that was almost lost when the last fluent signer died in 1950. For two centuries, Martha’s Vineyard was a Deaf utopia, where everyone used Martha's Vineyard Sign Language because inherited deafness was so widespread. When Poole Nash attended university and linguistic researchers learned about MVSL, they recorded words from her great-grandmother, grandfather, and another elderly resident so the language would not be lost.

Read Full Story