Language, Power, and Resistance

Mainstreaming Deaf Education

By Elizabeth S. Mathews

Categories: Deaf Education, Deaf Studies
Imprint: Gallaudet University Press
Hardcover : 9781944838041, 184 pages, February 2018
Paperback : 9781944838607, 184 pages, August 2019
Ebook : 9781944838058, 192 pages, January 2018
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Mathews conducts qualitative research that explores the impact of mainstreaming deaf students on power relations across parents, children, and professionals.



The current policy of educating d/Deaf and h/Hard of hearing (DHH) students in a mainstream setting, rather than in the segregated environments of deaf schools, has been portrayed as a positive step forward in creating greater equality for DHH students. In Language, Power, and Resistance, Elizabeth S. Mathews explores this claim through qualitative research with DHH children in the Republic of Ireland, their families, their teachers, and their experiences of the education system. While sensitive to the historical context of deaf education, Mathews focuses on the contemporary education system and the ways in which the mainstreaming agenda fits into larger discussions about the classification, treatment, and normalization of DHH children.
               The research upon which this book is based examined the implications that mainstreaming has for the tensions between the hegemonic medical model of deafness and the social model of Deafness. This volume explores how different types of power are used in the deaf education system to establish, maintain, and also resist medical views of deafness. Mathews frames this discussion as one of power relations across parents, children, and professionals working within the system. She looks at how various forms of power are used to influence decisions, to resist decisions, and to shape the structure and delivery of deaf education. The author’s findings are a significant contribution to the debates on inclusive education for DHH students and will resonate in myriad social and geographic contexts.


Elizabeth S. Mathews is an assistant professor at the School of Inclusive and Special Education in the Institute of Education at Dublin City University, Ireland. She is a graduate of NUI Galway, Gallaudet University, and Maynooth University.



"Mathews' description of the models of power, compliance, and resistance should be instructive to parents, Deaf and hard of hearing community members, educators, audiologists, ENTs, early interventionists, teacher trainers, and administrators who wish to work more closely, collaboratively, and effectively on behalf of students who are deaf/hard of hearing."

— Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education

"This book is highly recommended for anyone who has a strong interest in the education of deaf children in Ireland and beyond...Although the book is a serious piece of academic literature, it can still be utilized for facilitating community dialogues on the power dynamics within educational provisions for deaf children."

— Sign Language Studies

"This is an excellent work of scholarship...I am certain that this volume will inform parents, policy and practice."

— Teanga

Advance Praise

"I grew up in a household with a profoundly deaf brother. Through him I got my first taste of what it means to be excluded and how easy it is for all sorts of people to be overlooked in our world. Language, Power, and Resistance provides us with a timely reminder of how exclusion might still exist, even in the wake of inclusive education policies. This volume sheds light on the implications that mainstreamed education might have for deaf children, in particular regarding the use of sign language and the formation of Deaf communities."

— Professor Mary McAleese, Former President of Ireland