Deaf Author and Educator: Insights For Allies and Educators

The Power of Perspective: Deaf Educator Rachel Zemach’s Memoir Offers Unexpected and Vital Insights for Allies and Educators Alike

As seen in: SAN FRANCISCO and NEW YORK, May 11, 2023 /PRNewswire-PRWeb/ — Rachel Zemach, a Deaf educator, writer and passionate activist, has published a memoir titled, “THE BUTTERFLY CAGE.” Drawing on her personal experiences and her extensive work with Deaf and hard of hearing children and adults, Rachel Zemach sheds necessary and sometimes startling light on the experiences of Deaf and hard of hearing individuals and offers practical advice for educators and families. Her stories about individual students and how the school system disempowers them are funny, powerful and memorable.

“Being a Deaf teacher, I have seen how the education system unnecessarily and quite unintentionally limits students’ growth and potential. My book is a heartfelt effort to bring attention to this situation, which is largely unknown to the hearing world, yet common knowledge among the Deaf. Nationwide, parents are not learning, nor encouraged, to sign with their Deaf children, and this has created an epidemic of language deprivation in Deaf children. Public schools overlook the power and benefits of Deaf students embracing a Deaf identity, which wreaks havoc on many Deaf student’s potential and psychological well-being. Through poignant, humorously told, true stories, describing both public schools and the dramatically different setting of a renowned Deaf school, my book aims to show you how and why.

Rachel Zemach, Deaf Author and Educator Offers Insights For Allies and Educators teaching at a table in ASL to her students in a classroom.


THE BUTTERFLY CAGE provides practical solutions for parents and educators, but also aims to educate outsiders about our issues, since ignorance and mistaken assumptions is the status quo that has allowed these conditions to thrive. Through my writing, I hope to ignite passion and clarity in hearing readers and inspire them to be our allies by letting them glimpse behind the usually closed doors of Deaf classrooms, and welcoming them into our world. It’s time to break down the walls of this butterfly cage and create an inclusive world where everyone can soar,” explains Rachel Zemach.

48.3 million people in the US have significant hearing loss/deafness and 85% of our country’s Deaf and hard of hearing children attend “mainstream,” public schools where they will not receive the same quality of education as their hearing classmates.

Deaf children are often subjected to teachers, administration and other staff who are not only untrained in Deaf education but even hold a belief system that is in direct opposition to the beliefs of Deaf professionals in education.


Rachel’s debut book is tender, funny, surprising, and disruptive. You’ll be a fly on the wall in a Deaf classroom in a public school, watching a Deaf teacher struggle with staff, administration, and aides who sabotage the teachers at every turn.

You’ll also meet a language-obsessed boy who will capture your heart and run away with it and the political, fiercely intelligent members of the Deaf community who rally to change legislation after his life takes a shocking turn. Learn from these true stories of individual students and their quirky, fallible teacher, what the deepest feelings and dilemmas of Deaf and hard of hearing people are, and why 85% of our students around the country are being unnecessarily set up for failure.


“The Butterfly Cage is poignant and funny. You will learn a lot but hopefully UN-learn even more!”
– Jason Rezaian, author of Prisoner: 544 Days in an Iranian Prison

“The book starts out like a nice, leisurely drive through the countryside and then holy smokes—strap yourself in!—you realize you’re in a fighter jet pulling 7 G’s.”
– Mark Drolsbaugh, author of On the Fence

“Finally an eyewitness brings us a close-up lens on the experiences of deaf schoolchildren.”
– Gina Oliva, author of Turning the Tide

“The Butterfly Cage blows the lid off the California public school system’s treatment of deaf students. You will be both enlightened and outraged!”
–John J. Geoghegan, author of Hear Today, Gone Tomorrow

“Rachel’s account from the front line is vital.”
– Dr Paddy Ladd, author of The Unrecognized Curriculum

Rachel Zemach - Light skinned woman with brown hair in a purple shirt with flowers on it.


Rachel Zemach is a Deaf teacher, writer, and passionate activist on behalf of Deaf and hard of hearing children and adults. She taught Deaf students for over a decade— first in a public school and then in the dramatically different setting of a renowned school for the Deaf. What she experienced personally, and learned about the educational system and its impact on her students, stunned her and informed her work.

In her upcoming memoir, “THE BUTTERFLY CAGE,” she shares first-hand accounts and explores the differences in thinking between the two major, and often conflicting, viewpoints on how to educate Deaf children. She shares close-up, poignant stories of charming, individual students, classroom scenes that may surprise you, and her personal encounters and inner change as she navigates her own extreme Deafness, while surrounded by hearing people, both at home and at work. She leads readers through intense educational meetings, bringing out both humor and the dismay they invoke.

She explains in simple, clear language what has led public “mainstream” schools—which 85% of our Deaf students attend—to this place of un-intentionally setting many students up for failure, and unnecessary social/psychological challenges and dives into how to powerfully reverse those problems, for Deaf people of any age and in any school setting.

Zemach’s book is available now on Amazon in paperback and kindle format!

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Rachel Zemach - Light skinned woman with brown hair in a purple shirt with flowers on it.

An important book written from the heart about the educational challenges of deaf children

“I had the privilege of interviewing the author on my podcast, “The Art of Medicine with Dr. Andrew Wilner.” I would highly encourage anyone who knows a deaf child or who works in the public education system, especially special education, to read this enlightening, thoughtful and well researched book. It is likely you will view those who are hard of hearing and deaf very differently. It certainly opened my eyes to how much better we can do in our education of deaf children.”

– Andrew Wilner, MD


Black cover of The butterfly cage. Title and Author name are in yellow.  There is a painted butterfly on the front drawn by Nancy Rourke. It is colored in shades of blue, yellow and red.

The Butterfly Cage

‘In “The Butterfly Cage,” Rachel Zemach fills that gap, and then some! Writing from the perspective of both a Deaf student, and long-time Deaf teacher of the Deaf, Rachel enabled me to finally gain some real insight into the severe impediments to learning that we educators create for our Deaf students…’
Woman in a library holding the Butterfly Cage book by Rachel Zemach.

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