The Deaf In Academia Workshop: A Summary

Submitted on March 10, 2002.

The Deaf in Academia workshop on March 8-10, 2002 was considered a success, made possible by the generosity of the workshop sponsors and organizers. Christian Rathmann, Gene Mirus (both from University of Texas, Austin), Patrick Boudreault (from Quebec) and Dr. Gaurav Mathur (from Massachusetts Institute of Technology) did a wonderful job in organizing the workshop.

The idea for the conference arose from the Amsterdam Manifesto, created by some 35 individuals outside of the TISLR conference on July 26, 2000. The goal of this first Deaf in Academia conference was to allow Deaf and hard-of-hearing researchers to:

  • Gain a better understanding of the issues that we face in the academic environment
  • Feel more empowered to carry on with our work
  • Maintain a support network for one another.
  • Click here for a detailed description of its objectives and program

Approximately 30 Deaf and hard-of-hearing professors, researchers, and doctoral graduate students from the United States, Canada, Australia, and Europe participated in the Deaf in Academia workshop. The participants’ fields of study included computer science, biology, psychology, linguistics, anthropology, sociology, and education. It was enlightening to see a broad range of fields among the participants, indicating that deaf people are no longer limited in their choice of specialization.

Perhaps for the first time in history, many deaf scientists made contact with other deaf scientists across disciplines and discovered commonalities in their experiences within academia. Drs. Carol Padden, Ted Supalla, Paddy Ladd, Richard Meier, and Lisa Green provided fascinating and articulate keynote lectures about the role of deaf researchers in academia. They shared their personal experiences within academia over the course of their lives.

Many issues related to our professional struggles or successes were broached during the panel discussions by graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, teachers, and professors. We discussed our identity as deaf individuals and as deaf scientists, an issue which is especially relevant for scientists who study sign language and/or deaf culture. We exchanged opinions and advice on other issues such as accessibility at conferences; sharing research and collaborating with our colleagues; managing the classroom experience; and obtaining funding for our research and for our support services.

At the conclusion of the workshop, we decided to continue the discussion with all deaf researchers and teachers through this website, With contributions from other deaf people, it will include a variety of topics, such as grad-to-grad link, posting of participants’ research abstracts, bio sketches, and announcements of jobs or conferences. A listserv email group has been launched, which is currently very active. Several deaf academics around the world who were not at the workshop have joined in the listserv. As a consequence of the Deaf Academics workshop, an alliance among the participants has been formed, and it is likely that this group will evolve into a formal organization of deaf scientists.

Indicating that this workshop has provided a promising start for deaf academics, two meetings were scheduled. At the first, workshop participants reconvened at the Deaf Way II meeting in Washington, D.C. Funding was tentatively secured for a second Deaf in Academia Workshop in 2004 at Gallaudet University. In the future, we hope to see networking between deaf researchers and graduate students across a variety of disciplines.

The Deaf in Academia conference was made possible by the generosity of the following individuals at the University of Texas: Richard W. Lariviere, Dean of the College of Liberal Arts; Anthony Woodbury, Chair of the Department of Linguistics; James Brow, Chair of the Department of Anthropology; and Robert King and Joel Sherzer of the Department of Anthropology.

Related Links:

  • Program
  • Abstracts

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