Home » Deaf People Communities and Social Work Practice

Deaf People Communities and Social Work Practice

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Course history:

I always wanted to learn more about Deaf people communities and how to provide the best social work professional services and to work alongside Deaf people. I have extensive experience working with Blind people communities in Ukraine. As I keep making my courses aligned with the Universal Design principles, knowledge of Deaf people communities is instrumental in enhancing the accessibility of post-secondary education and raising awareness about Deaf people communities’ needs. In 2018 I met with the professor who teaches social work with Deaf people in Ukraine, and thanks to Ihor from Ukrainian Catholic University, I got inspired to read more literature on Deaf communities and develop the course in Canada.

In Winter 2020, one student from Wilfred Laurier University requested to have a practicum placement under my supervision. To my delight, Katherine has extensive experience working with Deaf communities in Canada. I am hopeful that this course will be updated and looking forward to seeing how Katherine will decide to develop this course and enhance the curriculum and include voices from Deaf communities in Canada in course design.

I hope more social work students will consider taking the course and learning about Deaf people communities in Canada and internationally. Any suggestions on how to improve the curriculum and to develop instructional materials are welcomed. I will keep updating the course outline to offer in social work programs that currently do not have any Deaf people community and social work practice courses in their curriculum. Students can also do their practicum in organizations serving Deaf communities while developing modules for the course.  Let’s keep social work education accessible to all.

Course designer:

Oleksandr (Sasha) Kondrashov, PhD, RSW

Course description:

This course critically examines the social work practice in Deaf People Communities. The course offers students opportunities to explore Deaf culture and recognize ways how to meet Deaf People’s needs.  Students are introduced to the concepts related to Deaf people communities and examine history, models and perspectives on social work practice with Deaf populations. The overview of social service provision and its impact on Deaf people communities and their effects on health and economic well-being is outlined. The course allows students to critically reflect on ways to address trauma and support mental health in Deaf people communities. Discussion is provided on Deaf cultural identity, language, communication channels and help-seeking behaviour among Deaf people. Students have an opportunity to study selected vulnerable Deaf populations and social work practice and policy concerns related to Deaf people communities and plan future actions for social transformation to support Deaf people communities in Canada and internationally.  

Educational Objectives/Learning Outcomes

After this course, the student should be able:

  1. To articulate the roles of the social worker in social work practice with Deaf people communities
  2. To develop adaptive responses to challenges working with Deaf people commuities
  3. To examine the history of Deaf People communities in Canada and internationally.
  4. To evaluate federal, provincial, and municipal policy responses to Deaf people communities needs  
  5. To promote social work Deaf People communities research
  6. To outline social service provision in Deaf people communities to enhance their health, social and economic Well-being.
  7. To address trauma and offer adequate mental health supports in Deaf people communities
  8. To recognize help-seeking behaviour among Deaf people
  9. To determine elements of Deaf education, culture, language and communication channels
  10. To analyze selected vulnerable Deaf populations policy, practice and research concerns

Course Materials

Al-Makhamreh, S. (2016). Hearing the voices of young deaf people: Implications for social work practice in Jordan. International Social Work, 59(1), 47-59

Anderson, M. L., Wolf Craig, K. S., & Ziedonis, D. M. (2017). Deaf people’s help-seeking following trauma: Experiences with and recommendations for the Massachusetts behavioral health care system. Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy, 9(2), 239–248. https://doi.org/10.1037/tra0000219

Anderson, M. L., Wolf Craig, K. S., Hall, W. C., & Ziedonis, D. M. (2016). A pilot study of deaf trauma survivors’ experiences: early traumas unique to being Deaf in a hearing world. Journal of Child & Adolescent Trauma, 9(4), 353–358. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40653-016-0111-2

Attfield, K. (2019). Qualitative individual interviews with Deaf people. Social Science Research Methods Foundations. New York: Sage.

Baker-Shenk, C., & Kyle, J.G. (1990). Research with Deaf people: Issues and conflicts. Disability, Handicap & Society, 5(1), 65–75. https://doi.org/10.1080/02674649066780051

Bone, T. A. (2019). No one is listening: Members of the Deaf community share their depression narratives. Social Work in Mental Health17(1), 1-22.

Bosteels, S., Vandenbroeck, M., & Van Hove, G. (2018). Put your ears on!: Deaf children’s embodied experiences with human and technological interventions.  Advances in Pediatric Research. https://doi.org/10.12715/apr.2018.5.1

Chapple, R. L. (2019). Culturally responsive social work practice with D/deaf clients. Social Work Education, 38(5), 576–581. https://doi.org/10.1080/02615479.2019.1595569

Cooper, A. E., Rose, J., & Mason, O. (2003). Mental health professionals’ attitudes towards people who are Deaf. Journal of Community & Applied Social Psychology, 13(4), 314–319. https://doi.org/10.1002/casp.725

Crellin, B., Simcock, P., & Bond, J. (2018). Good practice guide for social workers in England and Wales working with adults with acquired hearing loss. Retrieved from https://www.basw.co.uk/system/files/resources/basw_32617-10.pdf

Crowe, T. (2017a). Help-seeking behaviors among urban Deaf and hard-of-hearing adults. Urban Social Work, 1(2), 117–129. https://doi.org/10.1891/2474-8684.1.2.117

Crowe, T. (2017b). You’re Deaf? Breaking through myths for effective therapeutic practice. Journal of Social Work in Disability & Rehabilitation, 16(3–4), 230–246. https://doi.org/10.1080/1536710X.2017.1372239

Darroch, E. (2018). An illusion of inclusion? – Can counselling psychology do more to ensure equality and access to psychological therapies for deaf people, through their work with interpreters? The European Journal of Counselling Psychology, 7(1), 14–30. https://doi.org/10.5964/ejcop.v7i1.157

Desselle, D. D., & Proctor, T. K. (2000). Advocating for the elderly hard-of-hearing population: The Deaf people We ignore. Social Work, 45(3), 277–281. https://doi.org/10.1093/sw/45.3.277

Dockens, A. L. (2018). Deaf culture: Exploring Deaf communities in the United States. Ear and Hearing, 39(1), 188. https://doi.org/10.1097/AUD.0000000000000513

Dostal, H. (2018). Research in Deaf education: Contexts, challenges, and considerations. The Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education, 23(2), 183–184. https://doi.org/10.1093/deafed/enx053

Ferndale, D. (2018). “Nothing about us without us”: Navigating engagement as hearing researcher in the Deaf community. Qualitative Research in Psychology, 15(4), 437–455. https://doi.org/10.1080/14780887.2017.1416802

Frank, A. K. (2016). Deaf seniors: Experiencing oppression. JADARA50(2), 45-66.

Friedner, M., & Kusters, A. (2015). It’s a small world: International Deaf spaces and encounters. Gallaudet University Press.

Gertz, G., & Boudreault, P. (Eds.). (2016). The Sage Deaf studies encyclopedia. SAGE reference.

Green, C. M. (2019). Preparing providers and staff to engage in culturally-sensitive interactions with Deaf clients. Retrieved from https://repository.arizona.edu/handle/10150/636610

Harris, J., & Bamford, C. (2001). The uphill struggle: Services for Deaf and hard of hearing people – issues of equality, participation and access. Disability & Society, 16(7), 969–979. https://doi.org/10.1080/09687590120097854

Hiddinga, A., & De Langen, M. (2019). Practices of belonging: Claiming elderly care through deaf citizenship. Citizenship Studies, 23(7), 669–685. https://doi.org/10.1080/13621025.2019.1651086

Holcomb, T. K. (2013). Introduction to American deaf culture. Oxford University Press.

Ikegami, M. (2009). Social workers’ experiences with Deaf and hard of hearing people with mental illness. Retrieved from https://scholarworks.waldenu.edu/dissertations/6906/

Jones, C., Stalker, K., Franklin, A., Fry, D., Cameron, A., & Taylor, J. (2017). Enablers of help-seeking for deaf and disabled children following abuse and barriers to protection: A qualitative study: Enabling protection of deaf and disabled children. Child & Family Social Work, 22(2), 762–771. https://doi.org/10.1111/cfs.12293

Jones, S. (2004). Problematizing the Familiar: Deaf students as researchers of Deaf people. Qualitative Social Work: Research and Practice, 3(1), 27–38. https://doi.org/10.1177/1473325004041130

Kim, E. J., Byrne, B., & Parish, S. L. (2018). Deaf people and economic well-being: Findings from the life opportunities survey. Disability & Society, 33(3), 374–391. https://doi.org/10.1080/09687599.2017.1420631

Klimentová, E., Dočekal, V., & Hynková, K. (2017). Hearing children of Deaf parents – a new social work client group? European Journal of Social Work, 20(6), 846–857. https://doi.org/10.1080/13691457.2017.1320527

Knoors, H., & Marschark, M. (2014). Teaching deaf learners: Psychological and developmental foundations. Oxford University Press.

Kuenburg, A., Fellinger, P., & Fellinger, J. (2016). Health Care Access among Deaf people. Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education, 21(1), 1–10. https://doi.org/10.1093/deafed/env042

Kyle, J. G., & Pullen, G. (1988). Cultures in contact: Deaf and hearing people. Disability, Handicap & Society, 3(1), 49–61. https://doi.org/10.1080/02674648866780041

Ladd, P. (2003). Understanding Deaf culture: In search of deafhood. Multilingual Matters.

Lambez, T., Nagar, M., Shoshani, A., & Nakash, O. (2020). The association between Deaf identity and emotional distress among adolescents. The Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education, 25(3), 251–260. https://doi.org/10.1093/deafed/enz051

Lane, H. L. (2002). Do Deaf people have a disability? Sign Language Studies, 2(4), 356–379. https://doi.org/10.1353/sls.2002.0019

Lee, C., & Pott, S. A. (2018). University students’ attitudes towards deaf people: Educational implications for the future. Deafness & Education International, 20(2), 80–99. https://doi.org/10.1080/14643154.2018.1438777

Leigh, I., & Andrews, J. F. (2016). Deaf people and society: Psychological, sociological and educational perspectives. Routledge.

Lev-Wiesel, R., & Yosipov-Kaziav, J. (2005). Deafness as reflected in self-figure drawings of Deaf people. Journal of Developmental and Physical Disabilities, 17(2), 203–212. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10882-005-3689-0

Luey, H. S., Glass, L., & Elliott, H. (1995). Hard-of-hearing or deaf: Issues of ears, language, culture, and identity. Social Work40(2), 177-182.

Marschark, M., & Spencer, P. E. (Eds.). (2003). Oxford handbook of deaf studies, language, and education. Oxford University Press.

Marschark, M., Lampropoulou, V., & Skordilis, E. K. (Eds.). (2016). Diversity in Deaf education. Oxford University Press.

Martins, P. R. (2016). Engaging the d/Deaf Audience in Museums: A Case Study at the Calouste Gulbenkian Museum. Journal of Museum Education, 41(3), 202–209. https://doi.org/10.1080/10598650.2016.1193316

Moores, D. F., & Martin, D. S. (Eds.). (2006). Deaf learners: Developments in curriculum and instruction. Gallaudet University Press.

Mounty, J. (2016). Deaf mental health care ed. By Neil S. Glickman. Sign Language Studies, 16(3), 433–437. https://doi.org/10.1353/sls.2016.0009

O’Brien, D. (2020). Mapping Deaf academic spaces. Higher Education. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10734-020-00512-7

Parratt, D. (1995). Working with Deaf people. Disability & Society, 10(4), 501–520. https://doi.org/10.1080/09687599550023471

Power, M. R., Power, D., & Horstmanshof, L. (2006). Deaf people communicating via SMS, TTY, Relay Service, Fax, and Computers in Australia. Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education, 12(1), 80–92. https://doi.org/10.1093/deafed/enl016

Pray, J. L., & Jordan, I. K. (2010). The Deaf community and culture at a crossroads: Issues and challenges. Journal of Social Work in Disability & Rehabilitation, 9(2–3), 168–193. https://doi.org/10.1080/1536710X.2010.493486

Rogers, K. D., Dodds, C., Campbell, M., & Young, A. (2018). The validation of the Short Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Well-Being Scale (SWEMWBS) with Deaf British Sign Language users in the UK. Health and Quality of Life Outcomes, 16(1), 145. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12955-018-0976-x

Sacks, O. (1990). Seeing voices: A journey into the world of the Deaf (1st Harper Perennial ed). HarperCollins.

Schwartz, M. A. (2018). Providing effective communication access for Deaf people: An insider’s perspective. Białostockie Studia Prawnicze4(23), 35-42.

Singer, S. J., & Vroman, K. M. J. (2019). Deaf: A culturally-sustaining philosophy for Deaf education. In D. R. Ford (Ed.), Keywords in Radical Philosophy and Education (pp. 98–115). Brill | Sense. https://doi.org/10.1163/9789004400467_008

Sussman, A. E., & Stewart, L. G. (1971). Counseling with Deaf people. Retrieved from https://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED058689

Verdú, E., Pelayo G-Bustelo, C., Sánchez, Á. M., & Gonzalez-Crespo, R. (2017). A system to generate signwriting for video tracks enhancing accessibility of Deaf people. International Journal of Interactive Multimedia and Artificial Intelligence, 4(6), 109. https://doi.org/10.9781/ijimai.2017.09.002

Watkins, S., Pittman, P., & Walden, B. (1998). The Deaf mentor experimental project for young children who are Deaf and their families. American Annals of the Deaf, 143(1), 29–34. https://doi.org/10.1353/aad.2012.0098

Young, A., & Hunt, R. (2011). Research with d/Deaf people. Retrieved from http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/41800/

Young, A., Ferguson-Coleman, E., & Keady, J. (2016). Understanding dementia: Effective information access from the Deaf community’s perspective. Health & Social Care in the Community, 24(1), 39–47. https://doi.org/10.1111/hsc.12181

Young, A., Hunt, R., Loosemore-Reppen, G., McLauglin, H., & Mello-Baron, S. (2004). A profile of 15 social work services with Deaf and hard of hearing people in England. 22(1), 16.

Young, A., Oram, R., & Napier, J. (2019). Hearing people perceiving deaf people through sign language interpreters at work: On the loss of self through interpreted communication. Journal of Applied Communication Research, 47(1), 90–110. https://doi.org/10.1080/00909882.2019.1574018

Student Evaluation & Assessment

EvaluationPercentageDue Dates
Professional Learning20 % 
Class Project Part 130 % 
Class Project Part 250% 
Total100% 

Course Schedule

Week Topic(s) ReadingsAssignments / Remarks
 Introduction, positioning and course overview, definitions of Deaf Person, Community and Social Work PracticeChapple, R. L. (2019); Crellin, B., Simcock, P., & Bond, J. (n.d.); Sacks, O. (1990); Pray, J. L., & Jordan, I. K. (2010); Friedner, M., & Kusters, A. (2015).  
 Understandings of ‘Deaf Person’: Models and Theoretical PerspectivesGertz, G., & Boudreault, P. (Eds.). (2016); Lane, H. L. (2002); Leigh, I., & Andrews, J. F. (2016). 
 Historical perspectives on Social Work Practice with Deaf PeopleParratt, D. (1995); Green, C. M. (2019); Sussman, A. E., & Stewart, L. G. (1971). 
 Social Service Provision, Deaf People, Health and Economic Well-beingHarris, J., & Bamford, C. (2001); Kim, E. J., Byrne, B., & Parish, S. L. (2018); Young, A., Hunt, R., Loosemore-Reppen, G., McLauglin, H., & Mello-Baron, S. (2004); Kuenburg, A., Fellinger, P., & Fellinger, J. (2016).Professional Development
 Addressing Trauma in Deaf People CommunitiesAnderson, M. L., Wolf Craig, K. S., Hall, W. C., & Ziedonis, D. M. (2016); Anderson, M. L., Wolf Craig, K. S., & Ziedonis, D. M. (2017); Lambez, T., Nagar, M., Shoshani, A., & Nakash, O. (2020).Professional Development
 Supporting Mental Health in Deaf People CommunitiesBone, T. A. (2019); Cooper, A. E., Rose, J., & Mason, O. (2003); Ikegami, M. (2009); Mounty, J. (2016); Rogers, K. D., Dodds, C., Campbell, M., & Young, A. (2018).Class project part 1
7.Help-Seeking Behavior Among Deaf PeopleCrowe, T. (2017a); Crowe, T. (2017b); Darroch, E. (2018); Jones, C., Stalker, K., Franklin, A., Fry, D., Cameron, A., & Taylor, J. (2017).Class project part 1
8.Understanding Deaf Cultural IdentityAl-Makhamreh, S. (2016); Dockens, A. L. (2018); Luey, H. S., Glass, L., & Elliott, H. (1995); Holcomb, T. K. (2013); Kyle, J. G., & Pullen, G. (1988); Ladd, P. (2003); Lev-Wiesel, R., & Yosipov-Kaziav, J. (2005). 
9.Deaf People Language and Communication ChannelsPower, M. R., Power, D., & Horstmanshof, L. (2006); Schwartz, M. A. (2018); Verdú, E., Pelayo G-Bustelo, C., Sánchez, Á. M., & Gonzalez-Crespo, R. (2017); Young, A., Oram, R., & Napier, J. (2019). 
10.Selected Vulnerable Deaf PopulationsFrank, A. K. (2016); Hiddinga, A., & De Langen, M. (2019); Klimentová, E., Dočekal, V., & Hynková, K. (2017) Bosteels, S., Vandenbroeck, M., & Van Hove, G. (2018); Young, A., Ferguson-Coleman, E., & Keady, J. (2016). 
11.Deaf People and EducationKnoors, H., & Marschark, M. (2014); Lee, C., & Pott, S. A. (2018); Marschark, M., Lampropoulou, V., & Skordilis, E. K. (Eds.). (2016); Marschark, M., & Spencer, P. E. (Eds.). (2003). Moores, D. F., & Martin, D. S. (Eds.). (2006); Singer, S. J., & Vroman, K. M. J. (2019); Watkins, S., Pittman, P., & Walden, B. (1998).Class project part 2
12.Deaf People and Research: Reclaiming KnowledgeBaker-Shenk, C., & Kyle, J.G. (1990); Dostal, H. (2018); Ferndale, D. (2018); Jones, S. (2004); Attfield, K. (2019); Young, A., & Hunt, R. (2011).Class project part 2
13.  Deaf People and Resistance: Activism for Social TransformationDesselle, D. D., & Proctor, T. K. (2000); Martins, P. R. (2016); O’Brien, D. (2020).   
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