Areas of Study


The Graduate Certificate Program in Deaf Cultural Studies provides students with historical and theoretical foundations in Deaf Studies. Students may select courses from an interdisciplinary curriculum in the areas of cultural studies, history, critical theory, philosophy, literature, disability studies, visual culture, critical pedagogy, public policy and advocacy. This 18-credit program will enhance students’ knowledge of Deaf Studies, better preparing them to work in fields relating to Deaf communities.

Admissions Procedures and Requirements

Applicants for the Graduate Certificate in Deaf Studies must complete the application procedures and meet the requirements for graduate study at Gallaudet University. Visit the Graduate Admissions web site for more information and a checklist of application requirements.

First Date for Consideration of Application: No set date
Due Date for Completed Application: No set date

Program Specific Requirements:

  • ASLPI result: 3 or above (suspended for 2021 admissions cycle)
  • GPA 3.0 or above
  • Signed (ASL) Digital Video Statement of Interest: Applicants must submit a signed (ASL) video indicating why they want to pursue a Graduate Certificate in Deaf Studies. Signed video essays should be limited to three minutes and should provide a sense of how the Certificate will support the professional and academic interests of the applicant.

Courses & Requirements

Summary of Requirements

Graduate Certificate students may take the following courses, adding up to 18 credits. They may take any courses totaling 18 credits from this list. All courses are three credits.

(Note: a student must take all 18 credits from the Certificate Program, and cannot use these credits toward another degree.)



The course serves as an introduction to graduate study in Deaf Studies. Students are guided in reflecting on the past, present, and future of Deaf Studies scholarship. Exploring the historical trends and debates in Deaf Studies, we seek out foundational questions about deaf lives and communities, including identities, power, culture, and framing from interdisciplinary perspectives. Leading with stories and lived experiences, students connect theory with practice in preparation for subsequent courses within the Deaf Studies Master's Program. The course also aims to develop critical reading and writing skills important to graduate level scholarship.

This course begins by exploring key issues faced by minority language communities, with special emphasis on the world's linguistic diversity, language endangerment, and revitalization. After gaining a broad understanding of the dynamic intersections of language, culture and power, students will examine the historical role of language ideologies relating to signed languages, beginning with classical thought and continuing through the formation of deaf education in the 18th century and the medicalization of deaf bodies in the 19th and 20th centuries. In the end, students should be able to identify and explain intersections of philosophical, linguistic, educational, medical, scientific, and anthropological discourses which influenced the vitality of sign languages and deaf communities in the 21st century. Developing awareness of this phonocentric heritage helps to equip students in developing strategies for linguistic and cultural revitalization of sign languages and deaf communities.

This course is designed as a thorough exploration of the literary practices influenced by cultural traditions in the deaf community. Attention will be given to the unique face-to-face nature of signed literature and its numerous traditional forms as well different types of cultural productions, including online media. Students will become versed in the stylistics, poetics, and cultural contexts of signed literature in its live as well as video-text formats.

This class will explore the historical, medical, social, political, philosophical, and cultural influences that have constructed the categories of ''normalcy'', ''disability'' and ''deafness''. Building on the writing of Michel Foucault and critical work in the field of disability studies, this course will inquire into the institutions that have enforced standards of normalcy, throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries to the present. Primary attention will be paid to the rise of medical authority in the West, the history of eugenics, and contemporary bioethical issues confronting disability and deaf communities.

This course focuses on further analysis of relevant laws and policies when it comes to sign language rights, particularly for young Deaf children. Topics include legislative process, regulations writing, power of position statements/policy papers, analysis of federal and state laws. The benefits of mobilization and sociopolitics including the use of framing in media will also be discussed.

This course links theory with debates and issues central to contemporary deaf lived experiences situated in locations throughout the world. This course draws from foundational texts in the social sciences and humanities, as well as more recent theoretical directions and avenues of inquiry in Deaf Studies. Throughout this course, we will consider major theoretical perspectives as they have been applied in Deaf Studies. These perspectives will be discussed in terms of their historical precedents and their applicability to contemporary deaf lived experiences. Our aim is to understand the ways in which Deaf Studies scholars use specific concepts, their paths of inquiry and methodology, as well as contemplate future directions for scholarship in Deaf Studies. We will keep returning to the same question: where is-or could be-Deaf Studies today and how does-or could it-work as critique? In short, we will be critiquing Deaf Studies and thinking of it as critique in itself.

This course investigates the role of vision and the senses, sensory practices and sensory politics in the deaf community through its visual-tactile nature. By drawing on new theoretical approaches in the study of the senses, this course will explore representations and visual culture, the theory and the politics of sensory perceptions; and the cultural practices of architecture, museums, memorials, film, video, sign literature and resistance art. Through discussions, projects, and presentations, students will gain and articulate a critical understanding of the role of the senses in art and deaf space within a phonocentric world.

This course focuses on an analysis of relevant U.S. laws and policies when it comes to sign language rights, particularly for young deaf children. Topics include: legislative process, writing of state and federal regulations, power of position statements/policy papers, and an analysis of federal and state laws. Students will learn about community mobilization in the context of sociopolitical movements, with practical use of framing arguments for public consumption.

This course will provide students with a comprehensive understanding of the contemporary transnational Deaf public sphere. Students will study the origination and spread of international meetings among Deaf people and the concurrent formation of transnational Deaf networks. Students will study key concepts and review case studies in transnational studies which will then be used to interrogate the nature of interconnections between Deaf communities across the globe.

This course provides students with a survey of the concept of linguistic human rights. First included as an international right in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, linguistic human rights has become an important concept for identifying and furthering the rights of peoples based on languages. Students will examine the historical and theoretical underpinnings to this concept as it emerged within human rights discourse and tools which have been developed from this concept to further human rights aspirations based on language. The course will look at how this concept has been - and continues to be - used with deaf communities.

This course provides a multicultural perspective of community organizing for social change in parallel in understanding the deaf community's past and ongoing campaigns for equal rights from an advocacy perspective. Topics covered include organization structure, politics, ethics, inclusion, systematic challenges, and more.

For nearly two centuries, deaf people have circulated in international spaces, exchanging ways of living as deaf people across local, regional and international borders. This course will introduce students in deaf studies and sign language interpreting to the history, motivations, and dynamics of transnational connections among deaf people. This circulation of peoples and ideas over time is explored through framing networks of signing deaf people as composed of translocal as well as transnational methodologies of circulation. Attempts at articulating a shared experience of being deaf across geographical distances will be discussed alongside differences regarding mobility, power and resources among deaf people around the globe. These circulations are enabled through a communication practice known as International Sign, where both conventionalized signs and a broad repertoire of visual communication strategies are utilized to enable communication across different sign language communities. The course will give students a basic introduction to the concept and practice of International Sign.

A seminar course for graduate students on global themes in Deaf Studies. This course offers an examination of interdisciplinary attempts to construct deaf lives. Using a thematic approach, this course pulls together the themes of race, disability, citizenship, and empire. The course explores the notion of the Other to better understand various dynamics of structural power that meets at the intersection of deaf lives. How does race, disability, and other forms of Otherness interface with deaf ways of being? We interrogate the challenges of the archive in excavating knowledges about other deaf lives. Students will discuss scholarship in critical race theory, colonialism, orientalism, and indigeneity. This course aims to animate questions and new modes of critique.

This course allows the opportunity to offer courses on a variety of topics of concern to Deaf Cultural Studies.

This course will introduce students to the history of the American Deaf community. While recent studies in social history have challenged our notions of race, class, and gender, historians have not yet fully addressed a fundamental component in our historical identity: physical ability and its underlying concept of normality. A close study of Deaf history offers one approach to this issue, and students will confront some of the specific issues facing this minority group. Particular attention will be paid to the ways in which deafness has been interpreted within the mainstream community, as well as how the Deaf people expressed and preserved their cultural identity. By studying the changes in this group and its relation to hearing society, this course also raises broader issues of cultural identity in the United States.


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Certificate in Deaf Cultural Studies

H-Dirksen Bauman

Sorenson Language and Communication Center (SLCC) 1214

Monday - Friday
9 - 5

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