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May 24, 2023
Faculty and Staff
Themes & Speakers
Center for Black Deaf Studi...
Black Deaf Studies Symposium
Hall Memorial Building 1401
The Center for Black Deaf Studies (CBDS) is pleased to host the first-ever symposium intended to introduce the emerging field of Black Deaf Studies. This symposium will also introduce an emerging cadre of Black Deaf scholars and offer scholars in Black Studies and Deaf Studies the opportunity to examine the spaces Black Deaf Studies will occupy within these established disciplines.
The theme of this symposium is Black Deaf Studies Matters: A Defining Moment.” Discussions in the form of speakers and panels will interrogate the various aspects of this emerging discipline, such as education, language, history and the arts.
Black Studies scholars will use a Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) lens to address the urgency for scholars to engage in the scholarly study of Black Deaf people to further advance the knowledge base of the field.
Deaf white scholars in the field of Deaf Studies to discuss the challenges that historically kept Black Deaf people on the fringes of academia.
It is expected that this symposium will ultimately stimulate increased academic curiosity in the lived experiences, culture and the Black Deaf Way of being throughout the African Diaspora and the Motherland.
Dr. Glenn Anderson
University of Arkansas at Little Rock
Dr. Tom Humphries
University of California at San Diego
Dr. Michael Ralph
Dr. Ben Bahan
Dr. Sandra Jowers
University of the District of Columbia Community College
Dr. Joseph Hill
Dr. Laurene Simms
Dr. Rezenet Moges-Riedel
University of California at Long Beach
Dr. Carolyn McCaskill
Distinguished Senator Almakura
Executive Secretary James Lalu
Dr. Jenelle Rouse
Dr. Sam Lutalo Kiingi
Ireland / South Africa
USA / Studying in Germany
University of Maryland
Supt Learning Center for the Deaf
Dr. Gloshanda Lawyer
University of Tennessee
Andrea Sonnier Babin
Critical Consciousness School, Founder
An alumnus of Gallaudet University, Glenn also earned his Master’s degree from the University of Arizona and a doctoral degree from New York University. He is a Professor Emeritus in the Interpreter Education Program at the University of Arkansas-Little Rock.
He began his professional career in 1970 as a VR counselor in Detroit with Michigan Rehabilitation Services. In 1972 he joined the Deafness Research and Training Center at New York University (NYU). At NYU, he served as Coordinator of the referral and counseling center that provided community services and advocacy to deaf residents from the Metro New York City area. From 1975 to 1982, he worked at LaGuardia Community College of the City University of New York where he helped establish a continuing education program to benefit deaf adults interested in returning to school to further their education and/or to obtain two-year college degrees.
From 1982 to 2008, he served as Director of Training at the University of Arkansas Rehabilitation Research and Training Center for Persons who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing located in Little Rock. He was also a Professor in the University’s Department of Rehabilitation, Human Resources, and Communication Disorders and served as coordinator of the M.S. degree program in Rehabilitation Counseling with Persons who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing.
In addition to serving as the current chair of the Gallaudet University Board of Trustees, he has served as second vice-chair of the National Council on Disability (NCD), and member of the Board of Directors of the National Black Deaf Advocates (NBDA). In 2013, he was selected as one of 15 visionary leaders by Gallaudet University’s Sesquicentennial Steering Committee during Gallaudet’s 150th-anniversary celebration. In July 2014 he was one of 14 individuals inducted into the University’s Hall of Fame. In 2016, he was appointed as a Commissioner of the Collegiate Commission on Interpreter Education (CCIE). In May 2017, he was presented with a Doctor of Humane Letters Honorary degree during Gallaudet University’s 147th commencement.
Jenelle Rouse (she/her) leads a dual career as an educator with a doctorate in applied linguistics and as a visual body-movement artist. She has assumed different roles while actively involved in a variety of academic-, arts- and community-related projects in her home country. Black Deaf Canada (BDC) is one of the projects she co-directs and a lead researcher of its community-based project called “Black Deaf History in Canada.” If Dr. Rouse ever finds some downtime, she practices the 3 L’s: Live in the moment; Laugh with loved ones, and Love life and nature.
Dr. Joseph C. Hill is an Associate Professor in the Department of American Sign Language and Interpreting Education at Rochester Institute of Technology’s National Technical Institutes for the Deaf. He was originally from Cincinnati, OH, and was raised in a family of deaf and hard-of-hearing siblings, a hard-of-hearing mother, and a hearing father. He was the first black deaf person to earn his doctorate degree in linguistics at Gallaudet University in Washington, DC in 2011. Dr. Hill is one of the co-authors who published the book on the African-American variety of ASL, The Hidden Treasure of Black ASL: Its History and Structure, which discusses the history and language of the African-American Deaf Community from the scholarly and linguistic perspectives. Dr. Hill also published his book in 2012, Language Attitudes in the American Deaf Community. Link: www.josephchill.com
Lydia Gratis is rooted in South Africa and Malawi and was raised in Ireland. Lydia is a deaf writer, activist, pan-Africanist, and wellness advocate. Lydia is currently the president of the European Union for Deaf Youth (EUDY) 2022-2024, making her the 1st Black president in its 35 years of existence.
Prior to being president, she was chairperson of the Irish Deaf Youth Association, one of the 30 deaf youth associations across Europe (2017-2019) Lydia then went on to establish Ubuntu European Deaf Youth in 2021, a youth group for Black and Brown Deaf youth all over Europe, supported by the European Union for Deaf Youth, a European non-profit organization consisting of 30 national associations all over Europe. With the mission to create a Europe where all young deaf people are able to come together and share their experiences across cultures and boundaries, so they can enjoy their rights on an equal basis with others. Full social and political participation empowered by non-formal training and cross-cultural youth exchange, including access to education and employment.
Lydia founded Saved By The Sign with Romel Belcher to provide the public, non-formal education workshops on social justice, community, fitness, and wellness topics specifically tailored and centered to community development. Lydia is also on the board of Ireland’s national association of the deaf, Irish Deaf Society, and a part of the media team for the platform “Deaf Women’s Space”, a global platform dedicated to host workshops and seminars for deaf women by deaf women globally in international sign language.
Lydia is a member of Ireland’s National Women’s Council (NWC), All-island Women’s Forum comprising 28 members, 14 members from the South and 14 members from Northern Ireland. The Women’s Forum aims to address the underrepresentation of women and further develop women’s role in peacebuilding and civic society.
The Women’s Forum brings together women’s groups and individuals on a cross-border basis to examine issues and areas of commonality between both jurisdictions. Recognizing the range and diversity of civil society across the island of Ireland.
BA in Anthropology and International Development at Maynooth University and works at the Sign Language Interpreting (SLIS) the national Sign Language Interpreting Service for Ireland, as the Social Inclusion and Communications Officer
Dr. Rezenet Moges-Riedel is an Assistant Professor in ASL Linguistics and Deaf Cultures program at California State University, Long Beach. Her dissertation focuses on intersectional experiences and retention of Deaf Faculty of Color, working at postsecondary institutions. Her current works are heavily shaped by critical race theory, which she reframed “White Oralism” and “Black Deaf Gain”. Her research interests also encompass in linguistic anthropological issues, such as sign language contact, demissionization, and female masculinity signing styles. Moges(-Riedel) has published in Journal Committed to Social Change on Race and Ethnicity and Sign Language Studies journal. She also had several book-chapters published by University of California Press, Oxford University Press and Gallaudet University Press.
Laurene E. Simms is Interim Chief Bilingual Officer at Gallaudet University, Washington, D.C. She has been Professor in Department of Education at Gallaudet University for twenty years.
As an ASL and English Bilingual Education consultant and a former elementary teacher, Laurene has hands-on experience in the implementation of a bilingual and multicultural educational environment for diverse Deaf and Hard of Hearing learners with the ages of 0-21 and is an acknowledged expert on the topic of using ASL and English as the languages of instruction.
Tom Humphries is Professor Emeritus in the Department of Education Studies and the Department of Communication at the University of California, San Diego. He is co-author with Carol Padden of Deaf in America: Voices from a Culture (1988) and Inside Deaf Culture (2005), and numerous papers, including “Schooling in ASL“ in the Berkeley Review of Education. More ecently he has published collaborative works on the harms of language deprivation and the right to language. The focus of his work has been on cultural studies, the problem of self while being defined by the other, and narrative change. He was awarded the 2011 Henry Trueba Award for research on the social context of education by the American Educational Research Association.
A graduate of the Alabama School for the Deaf,1972. Gallaudet in 1977, BA; 1979, MA & 2005, PH.D. She is the Founding Director of the newly Center for Black Deaf Studies at Gallaudet. She is also a Professor in the Deaf Studies Department. Carolyn is the co-author of groundbreaking research and book, The Hidden Treasure of Black ASL. Its history and structure, published in 2011 (with Ceil Lucas, Robert Bayley, and Joseph Hill). She is also an associate producer on the documentary Signing Black in America (with Joseph Hill and Ceil Lucas; produced by the Language & Life Project, North Carolina State University, 2020 ).
Benjamin J. Bahan is a professor of Deaf Studies and Director of Gesture Literacy Knowledge Studio at Gallaudet University. He is known for his works in ASL literature, ASL Linguistics, and Deaf Cultural Studies. His current interest is in the gestural foundations of sign languages. Dr. Bahan is also known as a storyteller, among the well known stories are: The Ball Story, Birds of a Different Feather, Bleeva: A Narrative of Our Existence and The Wolf Who Cried Sheep. He co-authored and directed video productions: A to Z: ABC Stories in ASL with Benjamin Jarashow; a documentary film: Audism Unveiled with Dirksen Bauman. He also co authored the following books:The Syntax of American Sign Language: Functional Categories and Hierarchical Structure with Carol Neidle, Dawn MacLaughlin, Robert G. Lee and Judy Kegl, A Journey into the Deaf-World with Robert J. Hoffmeister and Harlan Lane.
Dr. Sandra Jowers-Barber is Director of the Division of Humanities and Criminology at the University of the District of Columbia Community College and an Associate Professor of History. A native of Atlantic City, N.J., she received a PhD in US History, an MA in Public History and a BA in English with a minor in journalism from Howard University.
Sandra taught US History and Public History at the University of the District of Columbia where she directed the History Program. She developed an annual student focused New York City Public History Tour that provides students with the opportunity, each semester, to visit the African Burial Ground Museum, the 911 Monument and historic sites in Harlem.
Her research interest focuses on documenting and interpreting the history of the African American deaf community. She has published and presents on the historic 1952 Miller v. DC Board of Education decision, which ended the geographical educational exile of District of Columbia resident African American deaf children. This case had a similar impact for the deaf community as the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education landmark decision had for the African American community. Among her publications is her chapter, “The Struggle to Educate Black Deaf School Children in Washington, DC”, in A Fair Chance in the Race of Life: Gallaudet University’s Role in Deaf History. It explores the struggle of African American deaf school age children for an education in the District.
Sandra a member of the advisory board of the Center for Black Deaf and Studies at Gallaudet University; serves as a Historian member of the District of Columbia Historic Preservation Review Board; is a board member of VOCA (Visionaries of the Creative Arts) an organization that advocates and supports deaf actors of color.She is a life member of the Association of Black Women Historians, a member of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History and a member of Delta Sigma Theta Incorporated.
Born in Philadelphia and raised in Saginaw, Michigan to a Grenadian mother and a Trinidadian father, Glennis is the new Superintendent of The Learning Center for the Deaf in Massachusetts. She is the first black deaf female Superintendent of a School for the Deaf in the history of Deaf Education. She is also the first HBCU (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) graduate to become the Superintendent of a Deaf School. Glennis is currently attending Clark Atlanta University and is a doctoral candidate in Educational Leadership. She passionately believes in the foundation of literacy and has focused her studies on early literacy intervention strategies for deaf and hard of hearing children (DHH) with a career goal to advocate and implement an early literacy curriculum for DHH children. Out of the office and onto the stage, Glennis is the only deaf member of Giwayen Mata – an award-winning soul-stirring, all-sistah, dance, percussion, and vocal ensemble based in Atlanta. As an advocate, Glennis dedicates her time as a tutor and mentor for interpreters who are working towards national certification.
Andrea Sonnier Babin, EdS, is the founder of Critical Consciousness School, a program designed to guide critical self- reflection that unlocks participants’ fullest potential in promoting healing, transformation, and freedom in their classroom, school, or community. She earned her education specialist degree in deaf education from Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C. Previously, Sonnier taught English to middle school and high school deaf and hard of hearing students in La., D.C., and Md. She has presented at local, regional, and national conferences on critical consciousness, the experiences of Black Deaf families, protecting deaf children of color, and the principles of social justice among other topics. Learn more about Critical Consciousness School at www.andreasonnierbabin.com.
Michael Ralph is Chair of the Department of Africana Studies at Howard University from New York University. He is also the Founding Director of the Center for an Equitable Economy and Sustainable Society (E2S2) at Howard University and a Professor in the Grossman School of Medicine at New York University.
Michael is the recipient of fellowships from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Woodrow Wilson Foundation, Social Science Research Council, National Science Foundation, Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, Harvard University’s Charles Warren Center for Studies in US History and W.E.B. Dubois Fellowship, and the Robert L. Heilbroner Center for Studies in Capitalism at the New School for Social Research.
Michael’s 2015 book Forensics of Capital demonstrates that the social profile of an individual or country is a credit profile as well as a forensic profile. Michael is now completing several books. Life, explores the relationship between the history of actuarial science, slavery, life insurance, and other techniques for determining how much someone’s life is worth. Before 13th, which revises the scholarly consensus about private prison labor, or convict leasing, showing that it did not begin with the 13th amendment but several decades prior. Michael is also completing the graphic books Fishing, which illustrates how people who are incarcerated improvise strings (from bed sheets, clothing, dental floss, and other fabrics) they can tie to objects to share with each other, and Basketball IQ, which reveals how cerebral and strategic sports can be.
Michael is also the creator of, Treasury of Weary Souls, the world’s most complete ledger of slave insurance.
Dr. Sam Lutalo-Kiingi is a Senior Lecturer at Kyambogo University in Uganda). Dr. Lutalo-Kiingi is the first Deaf African to hold a PhD in linguistics (2014, iSLanDS, University of Central Lancashire – UK, ‘A Descriptive Grammar of Morpho-Syntactic Constructions in Ugandan Sign Language’. Fluent in different sign languages, he has extensive experience in sign language research and teaching, as well as in the coordination of international development projects in Eastern and Western Africa. His published work employs a post-colonial and critical stance on the development of African deaf communities, which advocates for linguistic rights and indigenous (signed) languages in sub-Saharan deaf education, and the involvement of African deaf scholars in research and development.
Akilah English is a deaf and hard of hearing specialist for the District of Columbia Public Schools in Washington, D.C. With more than 15 years of experience, she has taught at elementary and middle schools in the District, Maryland, and Massachusetts. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from Gallaudet University and master’s degree in Deaf Education from McDaniel College. Akilah is an active member of the National Black Deaf Advocates and a board member for Maryland School for the Deaf. She has a passion for education that is centered in social justice. Akilah has presented workshops and training on social justice to Deaf educators at both state and national level. She is a committed change advocate, which is reflected in her work with numerous boards and organizations focusing on education and Black Deaf communities. Akilah is currently attending the University of Maryland-College Park where she is pursuing a PhD in Teaching and Learning, Policy and Leadership with a specialty in Minority and Urban Education.
Gloshanda Lawyer, Founder of COCOA Language, Advocacy and Consulting, LLC and Co-Founder of Myers & Lawyer
Gloshanda Lawyer, PhD is a community-based Disability Justice and Language Justice practitioner with an emphasis in abolition and making social justice spaces more accessible. She also does research, workshops, trainings, and consultations at the community, national and international levels on: various issues of social justice; colonization; Deaf Education and Deaf Studies with emphasis on analyzing systems of power; multilingualism for Deaf, DeafBlind, DeafDisabled and Hard of Hearing populations; and Reproductive Justice, Language Justice, and Disability Justice for Black and Disabled birthers in the United States and the Global South. She has been a K-12 Deaf educator, early interventionist, and professor of Deaf Education, Deaf Studies, and Interpreter Education. She has also been a multilingual interpreter for more than 10 years.
Honorable James Lalu is Deaf and currently the federal/national Executive Secretary of the first ever National Commission for Persons with Disabilities in Nigeria. His position is answerable to both the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and the President of Nigeria. He works with a Board and is solely responsible for overseeing the implementation of Nigeria’s national disability law at the federal level and in all the 36 states in Nigeria. Prior to taking his current position, he was the State Chairman of the first disability rights commission ever established in Nigeria in Plateau State. He is currently a final year doctoral student with the University of Jos in Plateau State Nigeria.
Distinguished Senator Umar Tanko Al-Makura is Deaf. He is the first deaf state governor in the entire continent of Africa and on Planet earth. He won a second tenure as Governor and his current political position as Senator unopposed because of his result-driven government philosophy. He established a state-of-the art and one of its kind comprehensive special school in his home state to provide educational services to students with disabilities, including deaf and hard of hearing students. He remains an unyielding Deaf Advocate. His son attended and graduated from Gallaudet University. He is one of the most influential and revered Senators in Nigeria.
Nia Lazarus (she/her) is an Oakland, California native living in Germany as she completes her third and final year of her PhD in Linguistics at the University of Cologne. She previously taught elementary school in California after earning her Master’s degree in Deaf Education at Boston University. She is an artist and designer working on various creative projects for logos, posters, and storybooks. Nia’s career is driven by her life-long fascination with languages and language acquisition, her advocacy for bilingual deaf education, and her love for design and technology. Aside from her academic and creative pursuits, she has also held presentations and workshops on social justice topics including anti-racism in education and the black deaf woman experience at local and national events in the United States and Germany. She is an active member of an organization for BIPOC youth in Germany. To learn more about Nia, visit her webpage at https://www.nialazarus.com/.
Hosted by Ms. Kristi Merriweather and Lindsay Dunn
6 – 8 p.m.
Welcome Reception, sponsored by Gallaudet University
Kellogg Conference Hotel
Ballroom | First floor lobby and terrace
Wine, cheese and hors d’oeuvres
7:30 – 8:45 a.m.
Click below to view the schedule
9:00 a.m. | Dr. Glenn Anderson
9:30 a.m. | Dr. Tom Humphries
10:00 a.m. | Dr. Michael Ralph
10:30 a.m. | Dr. Ben Bahan
11:00 a.m. | Dr. Sandra Jowers
11:30 a.m. | Break
11:40 a.m. | Panel Discussion | Moderated by Dr. Elizabeth Moore
Noon – 1:30 p.m. | Lunch – On your own
1:30 p.m. | Dr. Carolyn McCaskill
2:00 p.m. | Dr. Joseph Hill
2:30 p.m. | Dr. Rezenet Moges-Riedel
3:00 p.m. | Dr. Laurene Simms
3:30 p.m. | Break
3:40 p.m. | Panel Discussion | Moderated by Mary Perrodin Singh
4:00 – 4:30 p.m.
5:00 – 6:45 p.m.
Black Deaf Greatness Happy Hour
Peikoff Alumni House (“Ole Jim”)
7:00 – 9:00 p.m.
Perspectives of Black Deaf History
Hosted by Ms. Kristi Merriweather and Lindsay Dunn
7:30 – 8:45 a.m.
9:00 a.m. | Dr. Jenelle Rouse – Canada
9:30 a.m. | Nia Lazarus – USA / Studying in Germany
10:00 a.m. | Lydia Gratis – Ireland
10:30 a.m. | Dr. Sam Lutalo Kiingi – Uganda
11:00 a.m. | Break
11:10 a.m. | Panel Discussion | Moderated by Lindsay Dunn
Noon – 1:30 p.m. | Lunch with Distinguished Senator Umar Tanko Al-Makura (Nigeria) and Honorable James Lalu (Nigeria)
1:30 p.m. | Akilah English Head
2:00 p.m. | Glennis Matthews
2:30 p.m. | Andrea Sonnier Babin
3:00 p.m. | Dr. Gloshanda Lawyer
3:40 p.m. | Panel Discussion | Moderated by Reginald Bess
Dr. Carolyn McCaskill
Dinner on your own
Entertainment by Visionaries of the Creative Arts (VOCA)
Kellogg Ballroom | Michelle Banks
Ticket purchase required to attend the event
Purchase Tickets Here
9:00 – 11:00 a.m.
Smithsonian National Museum of African-American History and Culture
(On your own)
Center for Black Deaf Studies Gala (Semi-Formal)
Kellogg Conference Hotel Ballroom
Fill out the form below if you are interested in having a booth during the symposium. All booths will be at the Kellogg Conference Hotel in the first floor lobby, next to the ballroom where the program will take place.
To make your overnight guest room reservation at the Kellogg Conference Hotel on Gallaudet’s campus, please call (202) 651-6000, press 1, and ask for the CBDS Symposium rate. We only have 100 rooms available on a first come, first serve basis. Alternatively, you can click...
Fill out below to confirm your registration to attend the first-ever Black Deaf Studies Symposium. Regular registration: $275.00 You may register as a student with a school email address for online registration. You also may register as a student in person with a valid Gallaudet...
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