Journal Article

On Creating a Workable Signing Environment

A. M. Young, J. Ackerman and J. G. Kyle

in The Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education

Volume 5, issue 2, pages 186-195
Published in print April 2000 | ISSN: 1081-4159
Published online April 2000 | e-ISSN: 1465-7325 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/deafed/5.2.186
On Creating a Workable Signing Environment

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This article studies teams of service providers in education and psychiatric services, in which a substantial number of both deaf and hearing people work together as colleagues. It focuses specifically on the challenges involved in cooperatively creating a signing work environment. Using a methodology that draws on the principles of ethnography, it identifies and explores the meaning constructions associated with signing at work, from deaf and hearing perspectives. Data were collected through interviews in three organizations all in the United Kingdom: two specialist psychiatric units for deaf adults and a school for deaf children. Forty-one informants participated (20 deaf, 21 hearing). Results show that from a deaf perspective, hearing people's use of sign language in their presence at work is closely associated with demonstrating personal respect, value, and confidence, and hearing colleagues' willingness to sign is more significant than their fluency. From a hearing perspective, results demonstrate that sign language use at work is closely associated with change, pressure, and the questioning of professional competence. The challenges involved in improving deaf/hearing relations are perceived from a deaf perspective as largely person-centered, and from a hearing perspective as primarily language-centered. The significance of organizational factors such as imbalances in power and status between deaf and hearing colleagues is explored in relation to the findings.

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Subjects: Education ; Linguistics ; Teaching of Specific Groups and Special Educational Needs

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