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The SAGE Encyclopedia of Deaf Studies – Humanizing Deaf People

Dr. Genie Gertz, dean of the Gallaudet University College of Arts and Sciences, and Dr. Patrick Boudreault, associate professor in the Department of American Sign Language and Deaf Studies, and program coordinator of the Master’s in Sign Language Education, co-edited the three-volume set SAGE Deaf Studies Encyclopedia, which was published by SAGE Publications in January 2016.

Deaf Studies, a subject of discussion since the eighteenth century and gradually formalized during the late 1970s, has now grown to become a developed field of study at many colleges and universities. Deaf Studies focuses on an understanding of deaf people as human beings and their place in society as a social science, which includes the studies of signed languages, language literature, bilingual education, legal issues, social justice, and other issues.

The ASL and Deaf Studies programs are known as the world’s expert on American Sign Language and Deaf Studies. The programs offer courses that are designed to prepare students to spend their professional or social lives making contributions to the deaf community or in another chosen discipline.

The SAGE Encyclopedia of Deaf Studies aims to modernize outside perspectives of the deaf community and Deaf Culture, with a shift away from a medically-centered view, which defined being deaf as something that needed to be fixed.
The encyclopedia covers a variety of topics with 330 entries, including education, psychology, linguistics, law, art, media, diversity, religion, and more.

“Deaf people often are perceived as needing to be remedied and corrected by mainstream society. The SAGE Deaf Studies Encyclopedia aims to focus solely on the deaf community as a distinct cultural and linguistic group, which is defined by a unique and vibrant history, community, and way of being,” said Boudreault and Gertz.

Gertz also shared how proud she was of the co-edited encyclopedia.

“This was a massive project that was several years in the making and a long time coming.  I am very proud of this work and hope it will prove to be a valuable resource as well as a contribution to the field.”

Boudreault is a native of a quadrilingual and bilingual community in Quebec, Canada, is a native signer of Langue des Signes Québécoise and American Sign Language, and is fluent in written French and English. He serves as co-principal investigator with Dr. Christina Palmer of the University of California, Los Angeles on a grant from the National Cancer Institute on implementing online cancer genetics education in ASL to increase the deaf community’s access to culturally and linguistically appropriate materials.

Gertz, a Gallaudet alumnus who graduated in 1992, most recently served as dean of the Deaf Studies Division at Ohlone College in Fremont, Calif., before coming to Gallaudet. She is a recognized leader in deaf education, a sought-after international speaker, and an advocate for the deaf community in various organizations such as the National Association of the Deaf and Deaf Women United.

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