The International Development Master of Arts program (IDMA) announces its fifth annual Deaf Leadership in International Development virtual event on the theme of audism and phonocentrism in African contexts. Invited presenter Dr. Rezenet Tsegay Moges-Riedel (California State University, Long Beach and Gallaudet University Advisory Board member, Center for Black Deaf Studies) will present original research followed by a moderated discussion with IDMA alumni Habtamu Buli, G-‘19, and Olufemi Ige, G-’20). Together, they will explore the ways that audism and phonocentrism impact the International Development field and deaf leadership across Africa. 

The virtual event will take place on March 3 from noon to 1:30 p.m. ET.

There are many forms of audism and phonocentrism that reflect misconceptions and biases about deaf people and signed languages. Dr. Moges-Riedel’s presentation expands and reconceptualizes audism and phonocentrism within African contexts. Habtamu Buli and Olufemi Ige’s insights further illuminate the challenges and opportunities the International Development field must address in order to advance deaf leadership across development spaces. The field of International Development (ID) is a platform for social change for every sector (health, education, infrastructure, agriculture, etc). The ID field and it’s workers are committed to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as the “blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all”. In striving to achieve positive change, evidence shows that all people must be included at each step of the development process. This discussion will present new ways of understanding development work and how development practitioners and projects can contribute to dismantling systemic barriers. 

Rezenet Moges-Riedel, Ed.D., is Assistant Professor in American Sign Language (ASL) Linguistics and Deaf Cultures program at California State University, Long Beach. She also teaches as an Adjunct Lecturer with Gallaudet University’s MASLED program. 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 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 Oxford University Press and Gallaudet University Press.

Habtamu Buli is an international development, disability inclusion, and special needs education professional with 10 years of experience. Buli received his B.A. and M.Adegrees  in Special Needs Education from Addis Ababa University, and his second master’s degree from Gallaudet University in International Development. Buli developed a passion for international development while he was at Addis Ababa University. He co-founded the Association of Students with Physical Disabilities, and Deaf Students Association in the University and led as President and Public Relations Coordinator. Buli is a former Director of the Ethiopian National Association of the Deaf. Currently, he serves as Disability Inclusion Technical Officer at FHI 360, where he helps mainstream disability inclusion principles within project design and implementation. He is also Co-founder and President of the Ethiopian Deaf Community in the US.

Olufemi Ige is the In-Country Project Manager (IcPM) for Deaf-E3 Activity, a three-year USAID-sponsored project to strengthen Deaf Education, Empowerment, and Employment in Nigeria which he successfully launched. Olufemi is a Gallaudet alumnus with M.A. degrees in International Development and Public Administration, and a member of the Nigerian National Association of the Deaf (NNAD). He earned his B.A. degree in Economics from the University of Ilorin, Kwara State, Nigeria, and holds a Nigerian professional Accounting–Associate Chartered Accountant (ACA), equivalent to the United States’ certified public accountant credential. Olufemi was a World Deaf Leadership (WDL) scholar from 2017 to 2020, and a Euphrasia Mbewe award winner for excellence in social advocacy work. He has worked as a Federal Administrative Officer with the Federal Ministry of Environment in Nigeria and as an Inspector of Taxes at the Ekiti State Board of Internal Revenue in his home state, Ekiti State. Olufemi’s professional interests include accessibility, advocacy, disability-inclusive development, disability rights, and inclusion and empowerment.

Event Moderators: 

Maegan Shanks, MA 

Faculty and Program Assistant, IDMA

Dr. Danielle Thompson, Ph.D., N.C.C., N.C.S.C.

Associate Professor, IDMA 

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