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Creating a Lifeboat for Deaf Women: An Analysis of the Experiences of Deaf Women in the 1988 Deaf President Now Movement

Year: 2023

Presenter Name: Amanda Reece

In the field of historical research of Deaf history in America, the Deaf community is often minimized into an entity with a singular experience; the lives of people defined solely by their deafness. Scholars of the American Deaf community like: Harlan Lane, David Armstrong, Katherine Jankowski, and Melvia Nomeland offer scholarship on the Deaf Community; although most research does not record the Deaf community the diverse and intersectional group it is. Research on the Deaf Community has only recently begun to analyze the different experiences of the Deaf based on gender, race, sexual orientation, or socioeconomic class. My project seeks to fill the gap by introducing the experiences of Deaf women and analyzing how that experience is different from the male dominated popular narrative of the Deaf experience. This project is specifically about the role of women in the 1988 Deaf student protest and civil rights movement, "Deaf President Now." Many of the primary source materials are the oral narratives of women who participated in the protest like Nannette Hix, Bridgetta Bourne-Firl, Carol Padden, Dr Jane Norman, Jackie Roth, Dr. Mary Keane, and Vicki Hurwitz. Other sources include: videos of the protests, rally pamphlets, tv interviews, newspaper articles, news reports, and more. I found that female students at Gallaudet chose to protest for Deaf President Now, because it gave them an opportunity to advocate for themselves as Deaf people, the outside influence of peer culture and community, and it gave them a platform to empower themselves as women.
University / Institution: Brigham Young University
Type: Oral
Format: In Person
SESSION C (1:45-3:15PM)
Area of Research: Social Sciences
Faculty Mentor: Rebecca de Schweinitz
Location: Alumni House, SORENSON ROOM (2:25pm)