The Role of Deaf Professors In Higher Education

By Jean F. Andrews

Business Insider
Business Insider

As more and more deaf individuals earn degrees in higher education at the doctorate level, they are entering high education as professors and administrators. Oftentimes, they experience both physical and attitudinal barriers. Professors who are deaf provide role modeling for deaf undergraduate and graduate students. But working in an environment where majority of faculty and administrators are hearing, non-signers poses subtle and not so subtle challenges. Dr. Damara Paris shares her experiences in this article published by Lamar University Press.
Here is the link. Deaf Is Just an Adjective

Jean F. Andrews is a Reading Specialist and Professor of Deaf Studies/Deaf Education at Lamar University.

6 thoughts on “The Role of Deaf Professors In Higher Education

  1. Hello. I have tried sending comments previously but have no indication of them having been received. I am trying again and ask that you let me know if this is received and if possibly there is someone on your end to help edit my comment for length and clarity (?) Thanks much. Carol (Finkle)*

    To all Concerned with the Continued Oppression and Subjugation – vis a visEndemic Attitudinal/Active Discrimination and Exclusion – of Deaf Americans *

    First, thank you for continued distribution of * ‘DeafPrison’* posts and the plethora of bloggers/authors’ commentaries on topics that range from the proverbial ‘A to Z’ – all related to discrimination (more aptly described, *”OPPRESSION and deprivation of HUMAN RIGHTS”*) of Deaf/deaf people in America and world-wide [At it’s core, due, in my view, to historic, and deeply embedded ignorance about the difference between “D”eaf and “d”eaf”] Sad(?) … to say the least.

    *Note about use of upper-case “D” in the 21st Century.* Even in ‘our own’ NAD (*National Association of the Deaf)* web-page *Mission Statement*, they fail to use an upper-case “D”. Does this not signify a * “something-is-wrong-with-this-picture”* scenario? Alas, I personally find it reprehensible at this date and time, especially since it was way back in the 80s that Deaf leaders in the Philadelphia area expressly stated (and demonstrating a change in the enhanced sense of empowerment in the Deaf American community vis a vis their announcement, as follows:

    *ONE)* “…we will no longer accept use of the term “Hearing-Impaired” to describe members of our cultural-community”, and *TWO)* “… from this time forward we urge (demand) use of the upper-case “D” to signify respect when referring to the American-Sign- Lanugage using Deaf American minority culture, with the dignity afforded every other citizen, ‘minority’ or otherwise.” E.g. Just as we use the upper-case for *A*frican Americans, *J*ewish Americans, *A*sian Americans, even *LGBT* Americans…use of* D*eaf Americans (or, Deaf African Americans, Deaf Jewish Americans etc.) is called for, absolutely. And, for people who would defend the continuation of using ‘d’ for anyother/anyone OTHER THAN reference to the medical/physical aspect of hearing loss itself, this stance simply continues to undermine efforts of organizations like DBC, AFA, Deafhood, Deaf Pride and others that struggle to highlight the fact that “D”eaf refers to a bone fide minority culture in our midst and must be afforded ALL civil and human rights…period!

    In direct response to Ms Andrews’ recent article, *”The Role of Deaf Professors in Higher Education”, *before even starting to read I could predict the core of its content, that is, I believed it would surely describe (universal and relentless) ‘barriers to access, participation and respect’… as in “there is nothing new under the sun.”

    The reason this was so easily predictable, from my perspective, is because after forty-plus years (*including twenty-three post ADA)* of witnessing* treatment *(meaning *’exclusion *to the point of near-zero consciousness of their existence by Hearing society, due to – if I may – ignorance, fear and their near-total invisibility in the general culture) – there is simply NO reason to presume that the challenges and experiences of a Deaf American “PhD” would be very different from those of the least educated Deaf American at the other end of the spectrum…*UNLESS, that is, we are speaking about Deaf students, college grads **OR PhDsliving and working INSIDE DEAF SCHOOLS.

    * My point is, that other than an All-Deaf community/educational environment (E.G. *Maryland School for the Deaf,* *New Mexico School for the Deaf *et al), American-Sign-Language-using Deaf citizens receive little access and even less respect! Just look at the photo/representation of the group of ‘Leaders’ meeting with President Obama at the *23rd Celebration of the Passage of the ADA* at the White House this past July. * americans-disabilities-act* While others may think it was something to applaud, I say that the fact that NAD Executive Director, Harold A. Rosenblum was the ONLY Deaf person sitting around that table visibly underscores that, in fact, not much has changed, and that “THEY”…the Hearing, if you will, still don’t “get it.”

    *Suggested solutions?* None, really, as I fear things have reached a point of “too little, too late.”

    Nothing will change without major, and I mean *major r* eplication of MLK/Ghandi style activism…PUBLIC AND CONSTANT…but it just never happens, or, so few times that I am, after forty years, beginning to lose hope.

    Like a friend of mine, (way up in the Deaf culture/power structure hierarchy) likes to point out, *fighting for ‘Deaf rights’ is fighting an uphill battle for something which is counter-intuitive.

    *And he is right. ‘Fighting for deaf kids’ “birthright” to ASL’, for example, when 99% of the population think that Cochlear Implants (CIs) are “the answer” … [BTW, I refer to this perspective *of “CI’s for all! THE FINAL SOLUTION” as an all-too-familiar *mentality, and it is everywhere (with a history going all the way back to Alexander Graham Bell when he initiated an effort to rid-the-world-of-the-deaf and began by “disappearing” all Deaf adults from public life and obliterating American Sign Language from sight). I’m sure the analogy I’m making is obvious].

    * For sure, this is a sad and very rough time for advocates and activists of Deaf rights worldwide, and no more true than here in the U.S. I could write all day and night on the subject, but suffice it to say, I believe we are living at a schizophrenic moment-in-history when it comes to the ‘survival’ of Deaf people/Community, Deaf culture and American Sign Language. *

    On the one hand there ARE *lots* of new organizations and increasing numbers of public actions, led by smart, young Deaf activists taking their lead from successful civils&human rights leaders in the past (Deaf AND Hearing). And others working in the political arena in new ways (E.G. if you will (5K Run for ASL in San Francisco; *Audism Free America’s confrontation at the A.G. Bell Association for the Deaf Conference in LA this year (people are even raising the idea of *”reparations” for SURVIVORS of so-called Aural/Oral eduction-of-the-deaf…*

    **AUDISM: * perhaps not yet in Webster’s Dictionary. It is the term finally coined to describe the oppression of “the Deaf” by “the Hearing”, most of whom (the saddest fact of all) are Hearing parents. Through no fault of their own, Hearing parents, filled with fear and ignorance (misinformation and stereotypes) have followed what they believed to be the best (so-called) medical and educational expert advice in the world for the past century and a half. And, because they couldn’t possibly have a clue as to the *right questions to ask, * the ‘answers’ they got, and continue to get result in their followiung the bread-crumbed leading to the LEAST nourishing ingredients for the psychological, emotional, academic and overall health and well-being of their beloved d/Deaf children. At best, it is a (his)STORY of pain and loss of entire generations of minds that have been deprived of language because they were just NOT ALLOWED to grow and thrive through DEAF EYES…

    Carol Finkle M.Ed Education of the Deaf, Temple University M.A. Deafness Rehabilitation, New York University

    (215) 205-0408



  2. Ms Finkle
    Your comments touched on many important issues related to awareness, knowledge of, current state of affairs related to hearing society’s view of Deaf peoples and their Deaf culture. I am dressing just one, that is the role of Deaf professors in higher education. We need more for all the reasons you cited. Change can happen and Deaf leadership will make those changes. I have already seen this happen at our university and other universities as well. And that will be the topic for my next blog entry so stay tuned.


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