Willard J. Madsen
Poet, University Professor, World Renowned Sign Language Expert
Willard J. Madsen, known nationally and internationally as a teacher, lecturer, poet, and sign language expert, is a native of Peabody, Kansas. He is the sixth of ten children.
Mr. Madsen became deaf at age two. He attended the Kansas School for the Deaf in Olathe, Kansas, where he graduated with honors. Since then he has made many contributions in the field of Sign Language. He has written two sign language textbooks, Conversational Sign Language II and Intermediate Sign Language, a Bilingual Text.
Mr. Madsen is known internationally for his poem, You Have to Be Deaf to Understand. This poem tells what it is like to have a hearing loss in a mostly hearing world. It has been translated into many foreign languages. He also wrote the poem No!, which addresses the mistaken expectations of many hearing teachers of the Deaf. (It is widely believed that, with lipreading skills and the ability to speak clearly, deaf people can fit into the hearing world as equals. He knows all too well that these skills are enormously helpful, but they don't compensate for the ignorance of the hearing majority.)
Mr. Willard Madsen and his wife of 45 years, Dorothea, have a daughter and a son and five grandchildren. Mr. Madsen's hobbies include reading, writing, poetry, gardening, and cooking. He hopes to publish a book of his poetry in the near future.
Hearing and Hearing Loss | Causes of Deafness | Sign Language | Living With Deafness| About the Authors | Notes, Letters, and Posted Questions