Signed Languages – Deaf linguists/scholars and working with signed language communities

updated June 11, 2021

​​This is an somewhat actively maintained list of resources for working with Deaf researchers and with signed language communities 
Since I’m a linguist, this will be more geared towards that discipline although I point to others (from there you can find more relevant resources if need be). Do contact me for suggestions and feedback. Email me at julie dot hochgesang at gallaudet.edu or find me on Twitter ​🙌🏽​ Thank you!

Note, I used to maintain a Dropbox Showcase for this topic. If you clicked on that link and found it to be broken, apologies! Dropbox discontinued “Dropbox Showcases” effective January 2021.

Presentations or work I’ve done related to this topic

Thread by @jahochcam: Emboxed Discourse Musings. A thread… 1/ #EmboxedDiscourse Our new normal these days as we’re Zooming means we’re living part of our lives…. (n.d.). Retrieved September 14, 2020, from https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/1298028954788528128.html

Hochgesang, J. A. (2019, December 6). Sign Language Description: A Deaf Retrospective and Application of Best Practices from Language Documentation [Opening keynote presentation]. The 8th Meeting of Signed and Spoken Language Linguistics, National Museum of Ethnology, Minpaku, Osaka, Japan. https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.13393427.v1 (Twitter Thread)

Hochgesang, J. A., & Guity, A. (2019, July). Ethical concerns of sign language work with the Deaf communities: One Deaf Iranian man’s journey from researched to researcher. XVIII World Congress of the World Federation of the Deaf “Sign Language Rights for All,” Paris, France. https://www.wfdcongress2019.org/ (Interview video)

Hochgesang, J. A. (March, 2019). Inclusion of Deaf linguists and signed language linguistics [Invited Panel Presentation]. Georgetown University Roundtable (GURT) 2019: Linguistics and the Public Good, Georgetown University, Washington, DC. https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.13549316.v1 (YouTube Video)

Hochgesang, J.A. (2018, September 24). Same Modality: Different Languages – Signed
Language Documentation Projects Around the World. Invited presentation for
“International Day of Sign Languages” Celebration by the Department of ASL and
Deaf Studies, the Office of the President, and the World Federation of the Deaf
(WFD), September 24, 2018, Gallaudet University. (YouTube Video)

Hochgesang, J. A. (2015). Ethics of Researching Signed Languages: The Case of Kenyan Sign Language. In A. C. Cooper & K. K. Rashid (Eds.), Citizenship, Politics, Difference: Perspectives from Sub-Saharan Signed Language Communities. (pp. 11–30). Gallaudet University Press.

Online Resources

Footnotes (or Endnotes) about “deaf”, “Deaf”, “d/Deaf”, etc – Shared Google Spreadsheet of all of the footnotes that discuss “(d)eaf” decisions, based off this Twitter discussion.

Also see: Pudans-Smith, K. K., Cue, K. R., Wolsey, J.-L. A., & Diane Clark, M. (2019). To Deaf or not to deaf: That is the Question. Psychology , 10(15), 2091–2114. https://doi.org/10.4236/psych.2019.1015135

Deaf Academics

Sign Language Linguistics Society

Sign Linguistics Corpora Network (SLCN)

Lynn Hou, PhD’s Bibliography of research on signed languages (in progress)

Research projects/centers (deaf-led or collaborates with deaf linguists)

ASL Signbank

BSL Signbank

DGS Korpus

Haitian Sign Language Documentation Project (LSHDoP) (2014-2015)

International Institute for Sign Languages and Deaf Studies (iSLanDS)

Mobile Deaf UK

Considering “native signers” in signed language research: A tweet query and replies

April 2019, I asked #SignLanguageResearchTwitter for any references that problematized “native signers” or mention native signers as a potentially overstudied population in signed language research. 

(Old Twitter thread discussing what “a native signer” is)

Some replies from that thread (which has some sub-threads worth reading) formatted for sharing here … (shared with permission and links added wherever appropriate)

“I’ve started mentioning that in my publications. But really only a sentence or two. It is sometimes difficult to convince older generations that deaf of deaf is overstudied as you tweeted. The old concerns and worries stay around like a bad fart.
Several of my recent publications show that deaf of deaf advantages are almost always wiped out by early exposure to language. To the point where I’m starting arguing against dividing the datasets into deaf of deaf and deaf of hearing since it doesn’t always manage the variability. For reference here is one such article where I make that argument.” – Jon Henner (@jmhenner) 

SEE ALSO: Lillo-Martin, D., & Henner, J. (2021). Acquisition of sign languages. Annual Review of Linguistics, 7(1), 395–419. https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev-linguistics-043020-092357

“I just realised that we briefly mention increasing the diversity of participants in signed language corpora in our draft chapter on the future of signed language corpus linguistics which we submitted for your forthcoming (Hochgesang & Fenlon) book. :-). I was – after seeing this thread – reflecting on how many studies we have conducted using the BSL and Auslan corpora where being deaf of deaf or not turned out to be an important predictor of variation. I should review what’s been published to find out. In many cases, it wasn’t.”
” – Adam Schembri (@AdamCSchembri)

“For spoken minority language contexts there are a good number of recent publications about the native-non-native dichotomy eg. by O’Rourke, Ramallo, Pujolar, Jaffa, Liddicoat, Dewaele etc. (mostly in European contexts).” (for example)- Maartje De Meulder (@mdemeulder)

“I contextualize the origins of the native signer preference in my chapter in “Innovations in Deaf Studies” – Joseph Murray (@drjosephjmurray)

“I think it’s discussed in the first chapter of “Research Methods in Sign Language Studies: A Practical Guide”, by Singleton, Martin, and Morgan…” – Carrie Lou Garberoglio (@carrie1ou)

“Related but slightly different angle: Costello, B., Fernández, J., & Landa, A. (2006, December). The non-(existent) native signer: sign language research in a small deaf population. In Ninth Theoretical Issues in Sign Language Research conference (TISLR 9) (pp. 77-94).” – Allison Vere (@ejjlison)

“I discussed that a bit in the Limitations portion of my thesis (Greene, 2013, pp. 9–11), which was a study of the NCSLGR corpus. https://digitalcommons.wou.edu/theses/2/“ – Daniel Greene (@danielgreene)

“1. Criteria for ‘native’ classification: Is there a consensus? 2. Type/age of exposure matters to psycholinguists for valid reasons but 3. representative sample should reflect the population, i.e. largely non-native. 4. Situation similar to spoken lgs: L1 use studied more than L2. Sorry that doesn’t answer your question but your post made me think 😉” Dr Zed Sehyr (@zedsehyr)

“We often find differences in cognitive measures when comparing native with even early signers.” – Matt Dye (@DrDyeRIT)

Some other relevant readings

Cheng, L. S. P., Burgess, D., Vernooij, N., Solís-Barroso, C., McDermott, A., & Namboodiripad, S. (2021). Problematizing the native speaker in Psycholinguistics: Replacing vague and harmful terminology with inclusive and accurate measures. https://doi.org/10.31234/osf.io/23rmx

Lillo-Martin, D., & Henner, J. (2021). Acquisition of sign languages. Annual Review of Linguistics, 7(1), 395–419. https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev-linguistics-043020-092357

O’Rourke, B., & Pujolar, J. (2013). From native speakers to “new speakers” – problematizing nativeness in language revitalization contexts. Histoire Épistémologie Langage, 35(2), 47–67. https://www.persee.fr/docAsPDF/hel_0750-8069_2013_num_35_2_3457.pdf

Open letter to Springer Editors, January 18, 2021

Twitter thread that led to the open letter

Hochgesang, Julie (2021): Open Letter to Springer Editors. figshare. Online resource. https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.13600940.v2 

Twitter thread sharing the open letter