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Deaf Canada History: History, Identity & Culture

UNIVERSITY PREPARATION (CHI4U) (WORKING PAPER)

This course explores the challenges associated with the formation of a Deaf Canadian identity. Students will examine the social, political, and economic forces that have shaped the Deaf Canadian community from the early days to the present and will investigate the historical roots of contemporary issues from a variety of perspectives. Students will use critical-thinking and communication skills to consider events and ideas in historical context, debate issues of culture and identity, and present their own views.

Note: The emerging struggle of the linguistic and cultural identities of Deaf individuals and mainstream society has generated years of social and political conflict. The evolution of Deaf education and the Deaf community along with the emergence of empirical research on language (ASL/ LSQ), Deaf culture, Deaf history, and the Deaf community played a pivotal role in the formation of divergent opinions leading to linguistic and cultural struggle. It is vital to begin with a comprehensive overview of Deaf Canadian history and politics to highlight the internal and external influences on the social, political, cultural and linguistic movements of the Deaf community. This presents an opportunity for students to explore and identify the crucial influences that shaped the trends of Deaf education and the community.

Reference: For a list of links, please click on “Deaf History References”.

Overall Expectations

By the end of this course, students will:

Communities: Local, National, and Global

  • describe the characteristics of Deaf communities before and after contact with hearing educators who introduced the oral method and analyse the significant effects of the interactions between Deaf communities, hearing communities and their variety of attitudes;
  • analyse the principal characteristics of the Deaf colonial experience in Canada;
  • analyse the evolution of the members of Deaf communities;
  • identify the minority members (Aboriginals and Francophone) of the Deaf communities and their role in the Deaf communities;
  • analyse how various Deaf communities have defined themselves and their place in Canada;

Change and Continuity

  • analyse how Deaf Canadian communities’ relationships with Europe and the United States have influenced Deaf Canadian’s identity and culture;
  • analyse the relationship between major technological and social changes of Deaf communities;
  • assess the role played by mainstream and Deaf literature, arts, and popular culture in the development of Deaf Canadian identity;

Social, Economic, and Political Structures

  • analyse changes in Canadian social programs and policies in providing for Deaf individuals and communities over time;
  • explain how different individuals and communities in Canada seek to fulfil their ambitions and express their identities.
  • evaluate the claim that Canada is a just society, by examining issues related to human rights;

Methods of Historical Inquiry and Communication

  • use methods of historical inquiry to locate, gather, evaluate, and organize research materials from a variety of sources;
  • interpret and analyse information gathered through research, employing concepts and approaches appropriate to historical inquiry;
  • communicate the results of historical inquiries, using appropriate terms and concepts and a variety of forms of presentation.

Specific Expectations

By the end of this course, students will:

Colonial Canada

  • describe various aspects of “Deaf” life prior to the 1880 Milan Congress (e.g., burgeoning use of ASL, mainstream acceptance and understanding of Deaf individuals) and examine “audism” that became evident following the Congress of Milan;
  • analyse significant aspects and effects of the interactions between Deaf individuals & communities and colonists (e.g., introduction of oralist methods; the removal of Deaf teachers from Deaf schools; the emergence of Deaf community organizations and associations that embraced Deaf individuals with similar experiences, new empirical findings regarding linguistic and cultural identity of Deaf individuals & community, the emergence of the Deaf Human Rights Movement at the end of the 1980’s);
  • assess the effects of mainstreaming on Deaf culture and identity in various regions and peoples of Canada (e.g., isolation, discovering Deaf identity late in life, lack of awareness & access);
  • evaluate the changing economic, social, political and cultural contributions of the Deaf education system in the establishment of the Deaf community;
  • assess the extent to which Deaf education has shaped the cultural and linguistic identity of the Deaf community (e.g., Deaf schools; Deaf role models, empowering environment, language access, transmission of Deaf culture and identity);

Deaf Culture, Language and Identity Movements

  • analyse the historical impact of the Deaf community’s political movements in Canada on current issues (e.g., language rights, drivers’ rights, employment opportunities, educational rights, rights to full access);
  • explain how human rights privileges have been denied to Deaf persons in Canada since the early twentieth century;

Transformation of Deaf Canadian Identity

  • analyse how conflicts and compromises between the Deaf community and the Canadian government have helped to shape Deaf Canadian identity;
  • analyse how the Deaf community has acted to preserve its cultural and linguistic identity  (e.g., formation of Deaf organizations and associations to advocate for the rights of Deaf individuals, the celebration of Deaf culture, heritage and language through various media, promotion and recognition of Deaf culture, heritage and language through education);
  • analyse how changes in transportation and communication technology have influenced the Deaf community (e.g., in the early days, many Deaf individuals were willing to drive  great distances to socialize –Deaf events, festivals, picnics convocations, clubs, meetings, societies – with other Deaf individuals, the emergence of technology such as the  pager, videophone, closed captioned TV, internet reduced the distance considerably including the amount of time invested in socializing with other Deaf individuals);
  • describe the development and changing character of the Deaf community across Canada (e.g. influence of labels given to Deaf individuals based on hearing loss, influence of education system on Deaf identity, influence of Deaf community activism on Deaf identity);
  • describe the role of  Deaf individuals who identify  with one or more cultures or sub-cultures (e.g., Deaf Francophone, Deaf Aboriginals) in the development of the multicultural Deaf presence in the Deaf Canadian community (e.g., Francophone associations & organizations in Quebec, ASL & LSQ used on a national level, Deaf Aboriginal organization in Saskatchewan, Deaf gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered organizations, ethnic and religious Deaf organizations);

Culture and Identity

  • analyse how selected writers, visual artists, composers, filmmakers, actors, and athletes have contributed to Deaf Canadian identity (e.g., Helen McNicoll, Samuel Ash, James Frye, Vanessa Vaughan, Clifton F. Carbin, Hilda Campbell, Jo-Anne Robinson, Angela Stratiy, Martin Goldstein, etc.)
  • analyse how mainstream films, television, advertising, professional sports, and consumer products have traditionally posed challenges to or asserted the creation of a proud distinct Deaf culture

Human Rights in a Just Society

  • analyse the causes and effects of prejudice and discrimination throughout Deaf Canadian history and the positive steps that the Deaf community has taken towards human rights;

Research

  • formulate questions for research and inquiry (e.g. How have Deaf Canadians attempted to preserve their cultural and linguistic identity?) and develop a plan to guide research;
  • select and use a wide variety of relevant primary and secondary sources (e.g., written, visual, physical, electronic) that represent diverse perspectives;
  • evaluate the credibility of sources and information (e.g., by considering the authority, and expertise of the source and checking the information for accuracy, reliability, underlying assumptions, prejudice and bias, and validity of argument);
  • organize and record information gathered through research, using a variety of methods (e.g., summaries, lecture notes, video, note taking, visual organizers, maps);

Interpretation and Analysis

  • analyse information, employing concepts and theories appropriate to historical inquiry (e.g., chronology, cause and effect, short- and long-term consequences);
  • compare key interpretations and theories of Deaf Canadian history (e.g., limited identities thesis, fragment thesis, decapitation thesis; conservative, liberal, functionalist, Marxist, anti-audist,  feminist, postmodernist interpretations);
  • analyse historical events and issues from the perspectives of different participants in those events
  • make connections between historical situations studied in the course and similar situations in new or unfamiliar contexts (e.g., by identifying chronological ties and cause-and-effect relationships, and using comparison and contrast);
  • complete research projects that reflect or contain the elements of a historical inquiry process: preparation, research, thesis, supporting evidence, conclusion based on evidence;

Communication

  • express ideas, arguments, and conclusions, as appropriate for the audience and purpose, using a variety of styles and forms (e.g., reports, essays, seminars, debates, group presentations);
  • use an accepted form of documentation (e.g., footnotes, endnotes, or author-date citations; bibliographies or reference lists) to acknowledge all sources of information, including electronic sources;
  • use appropriate terminology to communicate results of inquiries into historical topics and issues.
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