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Interview With the Editor

Brian Greenwald,
Associate Professor, History, Gallaudet University;
Co-Editor, A Fair Chance in the Race of Life

GUPress: Do you see changes in the direction of Deaf history research in the last ten years?

Brian Greenwald: The field has changed dramatically over the past decade. We are seeing more research and scholarship on Deaf African Americans and women. We are taking a closer look at local and regional influences in the United States. Additionally, globalization has been another driving force in Deaf history scholarship, connecting deaf people all over the world through the history of organizations, activism, education, and sports. All of these will continue to guide Deaf history research in the future as there is much that has yet to be explored.

GUPress: How many students are enrolled in the Deaf History Certificate Program? Has the program generated more interest in Deaf history?

Brian Greenwald: Currently, there are seven students in the certificate program, and more have applied for this semester. Students in the certificate program traveled to Stockholm, Sweden, this past summer to participate in the Deaf History International conference. Students in the certificate program are excited about the Deaf History Lecture series, which has drawn from 50 to 100 people this past Fall. I would say the interest is definitely there not just among those studying Deaf history, but many others enjoy good history particularly when someone can tell a story very well. That makes it fun and intellectually rewarding.

GUPress: What is the goal of the Deaf History Lecture series? Who do you have lined up for the spring semester?

Brian Greenwald: The Deaf History Lecture series intends to showcase the latest research on the histories of Deaf peoples and communities around the world. Scholars within the field of Deaf education, Deaf studies, linguistics, or other allied fields that study Deaf peoples and their communities depend on the value of Deaf history to explain how communities arrived to the present state. When Joe Murray and I set up the lecture series, we also wanted to explore what Deaf history means and demonstrate its value as a legitimate history subfield.

We are particularly excited about the line up for Spring 2010. On February 3, we kicked off a presentation by three scholars: Carolyn McCaskill, Ceil Lucas, and Joseph Hill. They have been doing some exciting research on the history of Black Deaf education and language. In March, Melissa Malzkuhn, who is a graduate of the Deaf History Certificate Program, will give a talk on the role of the NAD during the eugenics movement in the United States between 1880 and 1940. Malzkuhn’s research suggests that NAD played both sides of the coin during the eugenics movement and its role is more complex than previously understood. Finally, Octavian Robinson, who is a PhD candidate at Ohio State University, will deliver a talk on Deaf people making a case for citizenship through anti-peddling campaigns between 1850 and 1950. His talk will be on April 14.

All talks are free and open to the public. They will take place from 12-1 pm at the Sorenson Language and Communication Center (SLCC) atrium.

GUPress: What areas of Deaf history especially interest you?

Brian Greenwald: I enjoy many areas of Deaf history. I am particularly interested in the interplay of oralism, eugenics, and marriage against the backdrop of Progressive Era America. Even more exciting for me is to watch students produce some excellent research on various topics in Deaf history. In a graduate class this semester, students conducted primary research on various topics exploring the polemics of Deaf activist Alice Terry as she attacked oralism and researched factors that led the National Fraternal Society for the Deaf (NFSD), which sold life and automobile insurance, astounding success during the Great Depression when the vast majority of banking and insurance companies failed in the United States. Students in the certificate and graduate programs have produced some compelling work and all of this is very interesting and exciting to me!

12:2 Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Look Up the Sign to Find the Right Word!

The Bestselling American Sign Language Handshape Dictionary Has Been Completely Revised With New Signs and a New DVD

With more than 1,900 sign illustrations including 327 new signs and a new DVD, the 2nd edition of The American Sign Language Handshape Dictionary will allow students and others interested in learning American Sign Language (ASL) to look up specific signs without needing to know their meaning in English beforehand. Due out this May, the new edition of The American Sign Language Handshape Dictionary can help users locate a sign whose meaning they have forgotten, or help them find the meaning of a new sign they have just seen for the first time. Instead of offering a conventional alphabetical arrangement of English words and their corresponding signs, The American Sign Language Handshape Dictionary organizes ASL signs by 40 basic handshapes and includes detailed descriptions on how to form each sign.

In addition, the new DVD shows how each sign is formed from beginning to end. Users can watch a sign at various speeds to learn precisely how to master it themselves. Together, the new edition of The American Sign Language Handshape Dictionary and its accompanying DVD provides students, sign language teachers, and Deaf people alike with a remarkable ASL/English resource that enhances the opportunity to hone communication skills in both languages.

Reserve your copy of The American Sign Language Handshape Dictionary, 2nd edition today, and receive a savings of 20% off with your exclusive subscriber discount. When ordering online, type “FEB2010” in the box labeled “use promo code” located next to the “checkout” button. You may also order by mail.


Disabling Pedagogy is a must-read for everyone engaged in deaf education—be it teachers of the deaf, administrators and politicians, parents of deaf children, or deaf adults—throughout the world,” raves the reviewer in a recent issue of The Review of Disability Studies: An International Journal. “The book provides strong arguments in favour of bilingual education with a strong focus on sign language as a deaf person’s first and most important language. I highly recommend the book . . . . [It] is a central contribution to the field, and provides grounded arguments for a better educational policy and for claiming access to sign language as a human right for deaf kids.” Read more about Linda Komesaroff’s fascinating study in chapter three, “Curriculum of the Hearing University,” and order Disabling Pedagogy: Power, Politics, and Deaf Education here.


In The Human Right to Language: Communication Access for Deaf Children, author Lawrence Siegel proposes that the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the Constitution guarantee deaf and hard of hearing children the right to full communication and access in the classroom, and should be enforced. The Review of Disability Studies: An International Journal notes: “The book is written in a highly accessible style and introduces the reader to the grave injustice deaf and hard of hearing children are exposed to in the U.S. school system. I would recommend reading it together with Disabling Pedagogy because the two books complement one another in a rather empowering way. Both give reasons for fighting for changes both in the legal and the educational system. It seems plausible that both strategies must be pursued together if any major change shall be attained.” View the table of contents and read chapter two for more insight into Siegel’s arguments. Order The Human Right to Language online today.


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