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Context, Cognition, and Deafness

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Researchers have met face-to-face, some for the first time, over the last several years at preconference workshops designed for sharing methodologies and research concerns. Many of these researchers had not had the opportunity to share research ideas cross-disciplinarily up until this point. Such meetings have provided opportunities to integrate research ideas and to engage in collaborative exchanges.

The goal of an interdisciplinary program of research should be to continue networking in order to determine how and under what conditions successful development occurs given specific background conditions. Individual outcomes can then be evaluated by determining how well individuals with hearing losses adapt to their context. Person-centered analyses in conjunction with variable-centered analyses of these outcomes can then begin to delineate what works, when, and for whom.

In Sum The 1990s provided many challenges and changes for the field, which is sometimes referred to as “psychology of deafness.” Networks have been established, dialogues have begun, and theorizing has increased. Publication rates have jumped with the addition of the Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education, which has also fostered international collaboration. In addition, many deaf researchers have joined the field. Knowledge in related fields, such as the linguistics and psycholinguistics of ASL, have stimulated creative new questions related to ASL literacy and bilingual/bicultural education.

I believe the development of networks at conferences and the resulting dialogues have changed the ways in which business is conducted in this field. Dialogue at these meetings is always exciting, if at times heated. The opportunities to discuss how research findings can be integrated and moved forward has been eagerly seized. Researchers want to continue networking in order to be able to benefit from the synergy created during these brief meetings.

The advantage of moving to a more inclusive, interdisciplinary framework is that it addresses critical research issues while building theory. In addition, the move out of individual disciplines to more interdisciplinary exchange allows for synergistic exchanges to challenge and evaluate our current state of affairs. These changes have positioned the field to make a qualitative jump in knowledge during this decade. This volume begins to bridge the gap between the many disciplines focusing on the intersection of cognition and deafness. Snapshots from the “bigger picture” are included as we increase efforts to network among the diverse researchers investigating aspects of cognition and development among those with varying degrees of hearing loss. The goal is to develop strong connections, both formally and informally, and to understand the impact of deafness on cognition.

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