“From White Deaf People’s Adversity to Black Deaf Gain”: A Proposal for a New Lens of Black Deaf Educational History

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Rezenet Tsegay Moges


This paper re-visits Bauman and Murray’s (2014) “Deaf Gain,” using the perspectives of Black Deaf history.  Due to the enforcement of the Oral policy in U.S. educational system during 1890s through 1960s, the language transmission of American Sign Language (ASL) for many generations of White Deaf people were fractured (Gannon, 1981).  During the segregation, approximately 81.25% of the Black Deaf schools maintained their signed education, which ironically provided better education than the White-only schools.  Consequently, the language variation of Black Deaf people in the South, called as “Black ASL” (McCaskill et al., 2011), flourished due to the historical adversity of White Deaf experience.  Thus, the sustainability of Black ASL empowered this ethnic group of American Deaf community, which I am re-framing to what I call “Black Deaf Gain” and presenting a different objective of the ontology of Black Deaf experience.

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