Areas of Study

How Deaf and Hard of Hearing Community Engages with Social Media

The Gallaudet community embraces social media, and nationally-known entities have taken notice of how social media engages the Bison worldwide.

Beginning with a Facebook page and a few core followers, Gallaudet’s multi-platform approach with social media has now become a national example in effective alumni and community engagement, catching the attention of some high profile organizations.

Gallaudet made the Top 10 Most Influential Colleges Online list on for social media in 2016, along with universities such as Princeton, Stanford, and Yale. The article mentioned how Gallaudet aims to use “visual media to promote the recognition that deaf people and their signed languages are vast resources with significant contributions to the cognitive, creative, and cultural dimensions of human diversity.”

In 2015, the Office of University Communications recognized the massive impact and benefits of social media and brought Lauren Benedict, ’13, onboard as its digital media specialist. “Watching our Instagram account grow from around 800 to over 13,700 followers in only 18 months was confirmation that our efforts are working,” said Benedict. “Our goal is to ensure our entire community is engaged on social media using one or more of our platforms that best suits them.”

In the ensuing months, several social media campaigns helped build and increase Gallaudet’s social media presence. Among those campaigns is #WhyGallaudet, viewed over 33,000 times on Instagram, in which members of the community explained via video why they chose to attend or work at Gallaudet; #HeartbeatsOfGU, showing diverse members of campus and an explanation of what they are studying; and #GallaudetUAlum, a hashtag dedicated to stories featuring alumni.

Gallaudet University Athletic Social Media platforms, operated by the Sports Information Office under the handle @GallaudetBison, finished the 2015-16 school year ranked No. 1 in NCAA Division III out of 450 schools for a second consecutive year, according to

“We have worked diligently over the years to create and secure Gallaudet Athletics’ identity in the social media space,” said Sam Atkinson, Gallaudet Athletics sports information director. “This has been a long building process, and due to our amazing fan base around the world, they have helped us reach No. 1 in NCAA Division III.”

This year, the Athletic Department utilized Facebook Live to broadcast Gallaudet’s games to Bison followers all over the world.

Though not the first Gallaudet president to utilize social media, President Roberta J. Cordano has become the most active in using it to engage with the community, through her Facebook and Instagram accounts, as well as Gallaudet’s YouTube channel.

“Gallaudet is at the forefront among its peers in finding the best avenues to connect with our loyal alumni and community, and now we can do it in real-time through social media,” said Cordano. “We appreciate how social media allows us to engage our community in a two-way conversation, allowing us to have a mutual learning experience.”

As of June 6, 2017, Gallaudet has gained 69,827 likes on Facebook, 12,500 followers on Twitter, 15,500 followers on Instagram, 851,948 views and 4,868 subscribers on YouTube, an average of 700 views per post on Snapchat, and 218 followers on Pinterest.
Photo by Zhee Chatmon.

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