BookPDF Available

Innovations in Deaf Studies: The Role of Deaf Scholars

Authors:

Abstract

What does it mean to engage in Deaf Studies and who gets to define the field? What would a truly deaf-led Deaf Studies research program look like? What are the research practices of deaf scholars in Deaf Studies, and how do they relate to deaf research participants and communities? What innovations do deaf scholars deem necessary in the field of Deaf Studies? In Innovation in Deaf Studies: The Role of Deaf Scholars, volume editors Annelies Kusters, Maartje De Meulder, and Dai O'Brien and their contributing authors tackle these questions and more. Spurred by a gradual increase in the number of Deaf Studies scholars who are deaf, and by new theoretical trends in Deaf Studies, this book creates an important space for contributions from deaf researchers, to see what happens when they enter into the conversation. Innovation in Deaf Studies expertly foregrounds deaf ontologies (defined as "deaf ways of being") and how the experience of being deaf is central not only to deaf research participants' own ontologies, but also to the positionality and framework of the study as a whole. Further, this book demonstrates that the research and methodology built around those ontologies offer suggestions for new ways for the discipline to meet the challenges of the present, which includes productive and ongoing collaboration with hearing researchers. Providing fascinating perspective and insight, Kusters, De Meulder, O'Brien, and their contributors all focus on the underdeveloped strands within Deaf Studies, particularly on areas around deaf people's communities, ideologies, literature, religion, language practices, and political aspirations.
Series jacket design: Geronna Lewis-Lyte
Jacket art: iStock / Rawpixel
INNOVATIONS IN
DEAF STUDIES
The Role of Deaf Scholars
Edited by Annelies Kusters,
Maartje De Meulder, and Dai O’Brien
Kusters | De Meulder | O’Brien INNOVATIONS IN
DEAF STUDIES
What does it mean to engage in Deaf Studies
and who gets to defi ne the fi eld? What would
a truly deaf-led Deaf Studies research program
look like? What are the research practices
of deaf scholars in Deaf Studies, and how
do they relate to deaf research participants
and communities? What innovations do deaf
scholars deem necessary in the fi eld of Deaf
Studies? In Innovations in Deaf Studies: The
Role of Deaf Scholars, volume editors Annelies
Kusters, Maartje De Meulder, and Dai O’Brien
and their contributing authors tackle these
questions and more.
Spurred by a gradual increase in the number
of Deaf Studies scholars who are deaf, and by
new theoretical trends in Deaf Studies, this book
creates an important space for contributions
from deaf researchers, to see what happens
when they enter into conversation. Innovations
in Deaf Studies expertly foregrounds deaf
ontologies (defi ned as “deaf ways of being”)
and how the experience of being deaf is central
not only to deaf research participants’ own
ontologies, but also to the positionality and
framework of their studies as a whole. Further,
this book demonstrates that the research and
methodology built around those ontologies
offer suggestions for new ways for the discipline
to meet the challenges of the present, which
includes productive and ongoing collaboration
with hearing researchers.
Providing fascinating perspective and insight,
Kusters, De Meulder, O’Brien, and their
contributors all focus on the underdeveloped
strands within Deaf Studies, particularly on areas
around deaf people’s communities, ideologies,
literature, religion, language practices, and
political aspirations. This volume features a
foreword by Tom Humphries and Carol Padden,
and an afterword by Paddy Ladd.
ANNELIES KUSTERS has engaged in
ethnographic research on deaf lives and sign
languages since 2004. She got her PhD in Deaf
Studies at the University of Bristol. She currently
is Assistant Professor in Sign Language and
Intercultural Studies at Heriot-Watt University,
Edinburgh. From 2017 through 2022, she will
head the European Research Council-funded
MobileDeaf project, undertaken by a deaf
research group focusing on international
deafmobilities.
MAARTJE DE MEULDER is a
postdoctoral fellow at the University of Namur
in Belgium, studying the ethnolinguistic vitality
of sign language communities. She got her
PhD from the University of Jyväskylä in Finland,
and has been engaged in deaf political and
language activism for many years.
DAI O’BRIEN received his PhD from the
University of Bristol, and is currently working
in York St John University as a Lecturer in BSL
and Deaf Studies. He was recently the Principal
Investigator on an AHRC-funded research
project focused on the urban spaces and places
of deaf communities. His current research
interests are on community engagement in
research, creative and visual research methods,
and spatial theory.
ADVANCE PRAISE FOR
Innovations in Deaf Studies
“Finally, a scholarly volume about deaf people written and edited by deaf scholars! Kusters, De Meulder, and
O’Brien have successfully compiled what they call a ‘deaf space in print’ which, I believe, will signifi cantly
transform and advance the fi eld of Deaf Studies. The chapter authors represent a group of international deaf
scholars and leaders who offer contemporary insights and analyses of theoretical issues and trends in Deaf
Studies. This is a must read for students and scholars in cultural studies, Deaf Studies, deaf education, and sign
language studies.”
PETER C. HAUSER | Professor and Director, National Technical Institute for the Deaf Center
on Cognition and Language, Rochester Institute of Technology
“Researchers in the fi eld of deaf studies and other aligned fi elds will not be disappointed by this book, which
features contributions from leading deaf academics worldwide. This book will be a ‘must have’ in the academic
library for all deaf and hearing academics involved in any topic related to research with sign language users and
deaf communities.”
JEMINA NAPIER | Professor and Head of Languages and Intercultural Studies, Heriot-Watt University
“This is a thought-provoking book from deaf scholars around the world. Situating itself fi rmly within deaf
ontological and epistemological frameworks, this edited collection succeeds in treading challenging
interdisciplinary and intersectional pathways. I heartily recommend it to all engaged with research pertaining to
people and communities who sign… and to those who may come to ‘deaf’ from a different place. Let us feed
our curiosities and be open to the new.”
ALYS YOUNG | Professor of Social Work Education and Research, The University of Manchester
“This book, its authors, and its contents provide vitally important advances in our knowledge. The title
under-estimates the signifi cance of these contributions, as this book offers leadership, status and position for
Deaf Studies as an academic discipline. This is an excellent resource book and essential reading for both Deaf
and hearing researchers.”
JIM KYLE | Emeritus Professor, Deaf Studies, The University of Bristol, andSecretary, The Deaf Studies Trust
Innovations in Deaf Studies models critical refl ection on deaf ways of being and deaf ways of knowing.
Conceptually and practically, its scholar-collaborators expand what Deaf Studies is and can be. It is a rare
and wonderful gift for a single anthology to contain so many refreshing interpretations, intersectional and
interdisciplinary methodologies, refl ections on scholarly accountability, and exciting new research areas.
A must-read for anyone interested in Deaf Studies.”
SUSAN BURCH | Associate Professor of American Studies, Middlebury College
2
9780190612184_CVRmech.indd 1 13/03/17 3:04 PM
... Placements in the mainstream schools (especially without availing of the deaf cultural socialisation at home) are likely to be less active in the deaf community in the subsequent years 2 . Kusters et al. (2017) remind us that the gradual decline of traditional sites disconnects many potential members from an essential part of sustaining deaf communities: intergenerational transmission of ontological and epistemological skills. Holcomb (2012) validates the existence of deaf communities as a source of "effective living" for many deaf people as he explains the benefit of having deaf communities: ...
... Moreover, the community as a concept in a traditional sense is gradually replaced by different community concepts (Blackshaw, 2010) that might not be widely articulated within the deaf community (Kusters et al., 2017). O'Brien et al. (2019) describe the changing landscape of deaf communities in Britain by stating: ...
... Academic discussions are taking place within deaf studies arising from the increasing awareness of the effects of intersectionality, technological advances, and the decline of traditional community sites like deaf schools. These changes may have weakened the community in solidarity and connectedness (Kusters et al., 2017). ...
Article
This article seeks to explore the notion and strength of community belonging amongst the deaf community in Ireland. The article outlines the results from the online and anonymous survey that took place in June 2020. Three hundred ninety-nine responses were made, and 270 out of them are fully completed and analysed before a commentary is made. Concepts such as the “community” and “deaf community” are briefly theorised to see if they are compatible with the community beliefs held by the respondents. Key issues that are perceived to unite or divide the deaf community include solidarity, cultural affinity, sense of belonging, lack of trustworthiness, feelings of exclusion and dissent regarding leadership. The theoretical concept of ‘sense of community’ adapted is that proposed by McMillian and Chavis (1986), who define it as “a feeling that members have of belonging, a feeling that members matter to one another and the group, and a shared faith that members’ needs will be met through their commitment to being together.” It is envisaged to have the research expanded into specific issues such as the long-term sustainability of the community.
... As Braithwaite (2020) has argued, researchers working with so-called emerging sign languages have not always taken enough care to avoid exoticizing signing communities. When discussing this topic in a paper like the present one that also takes a comparative perspective, it is therefore important to stress that all sign languages, including and especially "emerging" ones, must be respected as human languages (see also Kusters, 2009;Zeshan & De Vos 2012;Kusters et al., 2017). It would be dehumanizing to imply that any person's signing practices could be more like non-human animal communication than "true" human language, regardless of the researcher's assumptions or intentions. ...
Article
Full-text available
The field of linguistics concerns itself with understanding the human capacity for language. Compositionality is a key notion in this research tradition. Compositionality refers to the notion that the meaning of a complex linguistic unit is a function of the meanings of its constituent parts. However, the question as to whether compositionality is a defining feature of human language is a matter of debate: usage-based and constructionist approaches emphasize the pervasive role of idiomaticity in language, and argue that strict compositionality is the exception rather than the rule. We review the major discussion points on compositionality from a usage-based point of view, taking both spoken and signed languages into account. In addition, we discuss theories that aim at accounting for the emergence of compositional language through processes of cultural transmission as well as the debate of whether animal communication systems exhibit compositionality. We argue for a view that emphasizes the analyzability of complex linguistic units, providing a template for accounting for the multimodal nature of human language.
... Building Collaboration Deaf collaborations and leadership are essential for developing signed language technologies to ensure they address the community's needs and will be adopted, and that they do not rely on misconceptions or inaccuracies about signed language (Harris et al., 2009;Kusters et al., 2017). Hearing researchers cannot relate to the deaf experience or fully understand the context in which the tools being developed would be used, nor can they speak for the deaf. ...
... Building Collaboration Deaf collaborations and leadership are essential for developing signed language technologies to ensure they address the community's needs and will be adopted, and that they do not rely on misconceptions or inaccuracies about signed language (Harris et al., 2009;Kusters et al., 2017). Hearing researchers cannot relate to the deaf experience or fully understand the context in which the tools being developed would be used, nor can they speak for the deaf. ...
Preprint
Full-text available
Signed languages are the primary means of communication for many deaf and hard of hearing individuals. Since signed languages exhibit all the fundamental linguistic properties of natural language, we believe that tools and theories of Natural Language Processing (NLP) are crucial towards its modeling. However, existing research in Sign Language Processing (SLP) seldom attempt to explore and leverage the linguistic organization of signed languages. This position paper calls on the NLP community to include signed languages as a research area with high social and scientific impact. We first discuss the linguistic properties of signed languages to consider during their modeling. Then, we review the limitations of current SLP models and identify the open challenges to extend NLP to signed languages. Finally, we urge (1) the adoption of an efficient tokenization method; (2) the development of linguistically-informed models; (3) the collection of real-world signed language data; (4) the inclusion of local signed language communities as an active and leading voice in the direction of research.
... O'Brien and Emery (2014) describe how, historically and politically, Deaf Studies have struggled to fi nd a place within academia, and how Deaf scholars, like myself, are obliged to navigate our way through the academic system with no clear course (O'Brien & Emery, 2014; see also Kusters et al., 2017). Apple (2016: 510-513) identifi es nine tasks of being an active and refl ective scholar/activist, with a focus on how to counter neoliberalism in education. ...
Chapter
The Irish Sign Language Act was signed into law on 24th December 2017. At best, the journey towards achieving this legislation can be described as long and bumpy; it took more than 30 years. As this chapter cannot cover the journey in full, I will highlight a number of challenging experiences from the campaign, which I discussed with colleagues collectively and on which I have reflected. They are the subject of critical consideration here. The chapter begins with a brief description of what a Deaf activist-scholar is and how I became one. Based on a literature review and my personal reflections, I take a critical view of how I operate as an activist-scholar. I will summarise the campaign for the recognition of Irish Sign Language (ISL) and the act that provides recognition. I have selected some issues and incidents that occurred during the campaign, which I believe, similar to acts of racism, sexism etc., should be called out as acts of audism or linguistic imperialism, and critically discussed. Audism was first described in 1975 by Tom Humphries as “the notion that one is superior based on one’s ability to hear or to behave in the manner of one who hears.” (Humphries 1975). Linguistic imperialism was coined by Robert Phillipson as the exploitation of the ideological, cultural and elitist power of English for the economic and political advantage of dominant English-speaking cultures (Philipson, 1993).
Article
Full-text available
Disabled people have achieved more legal recognition from nation‐states and societies because of advocacy and institutional efforts such as the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. This is a starting, not an end, point: How does legal recognition trickle down (or not) or become distributed to those who work with disabled people? This article examines this question by ethnographically attending to the experiences of two sign language interpreters in Bangalore, India, and in Hà Nội, Vietnam. While both countries recognize deaf peoples’ rights, there is limited institutional or financial recognition of interpreters. Interpreters’ daily lives and individual projects of recognition are shaped by broader socio‐political contexts. The article argues that in the absence of legal recognition, recognition is an interpersonal process that is both produced by and produces forms of relationship and responsibility. How do interpreters seek and receive recognition from the state as well as deaf people, hearing colleagues, and society at large? Attending to recognition projects highlights how deaf people and interpreters are bound together in mutual systems of precarious interdependence. Recognition is negotiated across multiple scales and influences individuals’ life projects and livelihoods. [recognition, disability, deafness, sign language, interpreting]
Article
This article describes a collaborative photovoice project and exposition as a platform for deaf youth in Mexico to dialogue about their concerns. Issues that are often difficult to discuss with hearing adults—because of mismatched language and limited agency, among other factors—became interactive. Analysis of one photograph, within the broader context of the project, reveals the potential for photovoice to connect deaf youth with communicative tools and a variety of audiences, providing a venue for them to advocate for their need for sign language. Limitations of photovoice as an activist endeavor aimed at empowering participants are also discussed.
Article
This paper focuses on issues related to sign language policies in Higher Educational Institutes (HEIs) in Europe. Drawing on the analytical framework proposed by Darquennes/Du Plessis/Soler (2020, i. e. this volume), which serves to address HEI language planning issues at macro, meso and micro levels, we carry out an inventory of how these issues play out for sign languages across Europe. Our investigation reveals the scarcity of information about sign language policies in HEIs, relating to both sign language as a language of instruction and as a subject of study. What becomes clear is that language planning activities (sign language acquisition, sign language status and corpus planning) are taking place in many countries but tend to go undocumented and unresearched. Given the increase in formal recognition of sign languages across Europe, coupled with the ratification of the UN’s Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (2006) by all EU member states, it would seem logical to expect that the status and prestige of sign languages would rise, with greater visibility of, and planning for, incorporation of sign languages in HEIs. However, the reality of the situation is unclear, suggesting the need for coordinated effort, supported by key pan-European bodies like the Council of Europe, the European Centre for Modern Languages and the European Commission, to ensure that sign language policy is on the agenda as parts of a rights-based response to deaf communities and the sign languages of Europe. Equally important is the need for European HEIs to embrace sign languages and ensure that they are part of the linguistic landscape. This will support and promote the status planning of sign languages and open up access to HEIs for deaf communities, a group that remains under-represented in academia.
Article
Full-text available
Deaf anthropology is a field that exists in conversation with but is not re-ducible to the interdisciplinary field of deaf studies. Deaf anthropology is predicated upon a commitment to understanding deafnesses across time and space while holding on to "deaf" as a category that does something socially, politically, morally, and methodologically. In doing so, deaf anthropology moves beyond compartmentalizing the body, the senses, and disciplinary boundaries. We analyze the close relationship between anthropology writ large and deaf studies: Deaf studies scholars have found analytics and categories from anthropology, such as the concept of culture, to be productive in analyzing deaf peoples' experiences and the sociocultural meanings of deafness. As we note, however, scholarship on deaf peoples' experiences is increasingly variegated. This review is arranged into four overlapping sections titled Socialities and Similitudes; Mobilities, Spaces, and Networks; Modalities and the Sensorium; and Technologies and Futures. 31
ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any references for this publication.