Raija Nieminen Biography

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(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

Anative of Finland, Raija Nieminen grew up during World War II. One grandfather was a distinguished member of the community, serving in Parliament and on the town council. An excellent student, Nieminen went to the University of Helsinki. However, her academic career was cut short because her increasing deafness made it impossible to take oral examinations. Eventually, she completed a degree in library science, but this career was interrupted by her marriage to Jukka Nieminen, a sea captain, and the birth of their two sons, Keke and Joppe. Nevertheless, she developed strong ties to the deaf community in Finland and became an advocate for the removal of barriers to full social participation by the deaf. She is currently director of the Cultural Centre of the Finnish Association for the Deaf in Helsinki. Her memoir Voyage to the Island recounts a period in the late 1970s during which her family lived on the Caribbean island of St. Lucia. During that time, her husband, by then a port management consultant, helped the newly independent country to develop modern facilities for exporting and importing products.