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Pioneering research into the work of deaf educators

University Of Bristol : 22 April, 2007  (Technical Article)
Researchers at the University's Centre for Deaf Studies have conducted what is thought to be the world's first in-depth study of Deaf educators.The project, funded by the Leverhulme Trust, identified a series of findings, including the existence of unrecognised Deaf educators.
The two-year study was intended to explore and record the ways in which Deaf adults and children perceive the world and create their own culture based on those shared perceptions.

This was achieved through interviews with Deaf adults and Deaf children as well as prolonged periods of observations within schools and the Deaf community.

The findings formed the basis of the first-ever national workshop on Deaf Pedagogies earlier this year.

Researchers said the findings indicated the degree to which even the most experienced practitioners in this field were unaware of the depth and breadth of the Deaf collective cultural experience and how it is used in their own education.

The researchers, Dr Paddy Ladd and Donna West, believe Deaf, native sign-language-using educators can inform and extend our understanding of the real nature of communication and ways of viewing the world around us.

They also believe that we have not realised the extent of the exciting and challenging parallels between teachers and emerging Deaf knowledge.

Dr Ladd said: 'The findings show us that instead of seeing Deaf people through the medical eyes of deficit and 'cure', the world can benefit from the idea of difference and a positive feature of human diversity.

'Deaf people have traditionally described themselves as 'people of the eye'. The research demonstrates that this belief is used to an extent that even they are unaware of.'

The data also reflects the strength of Deaf educators' desires to introspect and make visible the principles, which have guided their lives, and their determination to have these recognised by others in a professional context.

The researchers aim to publish a book from the research which will explain the ways in which Deaf educators transmit their understanding, history, traditions, social and cultural art forms, beliefs, and language to young Deaf children, and prepare them for adult life.

In addition, it will identify and set out Deaf children's depths of cultural understanding, recognition and consciousness something that has never been attempted before in 250 years of work in this field.
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