Social Justice Perspectives on Deaf Education, History and Access

Applied Community Studies
Sign Language Interpretation
Course Code
INTR 1103
Semester Length
15 weeks
Max Class Size
Method(s) Of Instruction
Typically Offered
To be determined


Course Description
This course provides opportunities to study the challenges and successes of Deaf people's access to all facets of society, as experienced by users of visual language in a world dominated by the use of spoken language. Students will apply a social justice lens to examine the history of systems (education, health care, etc.), and shifts in legislation and social policy that impact the lives of Deaf people.
Course Content

Historical and current trends, barriers and successes in Deaf people’s access to the following:


  • Controversy of signed or spoken language approaches
  • First Deaf schools in North America
  • 1880 Congress of Milan and its impact
  • Newborn screening and diagnosis in BC
  • Deaf children in hearing families
  • BC Early Hearing Program and age 0-5 intervention programs
  • Cochlear implantation and/or hearing aids
  • Accessible language or language deprivation
  • Approaches: auditory/verbal; total communication; bilingual-bicultural education
  • K-12: Mainstreaming v. Segregated schools
  • Post-secondary studies; Gallaudet University


  • Job training and readiness
  • Hiring practices and attitudes
  • Under-employment and unemployment
  • Inclusion in the workplace

Health care and other public services

  • Health care: doctors, hospitals, therapies
  • Mental health services, counselling
  • Eldridge court case; medical interpreting services
  • Interfacing with the legal system, police, corrections
  • Provincial Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services
  • Transportation: planes, trains, buses, ferries

Arts and recreation

  • Recreation, sport and leisure activities in the community
  • Creative arts and cultural events
  • Entertainment, theatrical performances
  • Universal design and Deaf space


Advancements in Deaf people’s rights:

Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms

Provincial and federal legislation in BC and Canada

UN Conventions

Issues and ongoing advocacy


Deaf representation in literature and media:

Historical examples from literature and film

Recent examples from movies, television, theatre and social media

Movements toward social justice and equality


The following global ideas guide the design and delivery of this course:

1.         The Deaf community comprises a vibrant linguistic and cultural minority whose members are connected to each other through shared values, norms, art, traditions and especially the primacy of using a signed language.

2.         A pathological view of Deaf people as disabled and in need of repair has been prevalent in our society, perpetuating attitudinal and systemic barriers to access to opportunities for education, employment, autonomy and inclusion.

3.         The history of Deaf education in North America has been one of philosophical controversy, experiments with methodology, and shifting policies about linguistic approach and educational placement options.

4.         A potential consequence of failure to adequately respond to Deaf children’s educational and social/emotional needs is language deprivation; when accessible language is not provided during crucial early development, there are long-term negative repercussions for the individual and their relationships.

5.         The terms ‘access’ and ‘inclusion’ can mean different things to different groups or individuals. For Deaf people who experience the world primarily through visual input/language, the challenges of access and inclusion are linked to living within systems designed by the dominant hearing majority who rely on auditory input/language.

6.         There has been positive movement toward greater awareness among the general public and observable improvements in access for Deaf people within systems. The representation of Deaf people in literature and popular media is one lens for examining societal shifts.

Learning Activities

- lecture/discussion

- small group work

- guest speakers

- course readings/videos

Means of Assessment

Evaluation will be based on a combination of individual and group work, and at the instructor’s discretion may include presentations and written assignments, papers, quizzes and exams. A sample distribution of graded assignments follows:

•  Field research group project on a local program/service for Deaf people

o  Written summary 15%

o  Presentation 15%

•  Critical analysis of a piece of literature (movie, book, play, etc) depicting Deaf people 15%

•  Essay 15%

•  Quizzes 30%

•  Attendance and participation 10%

This is a letter graded course.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course, the student will be able to:

•  Explain the history of an audist/medicalized/audiological view of Deaf people and how it impacts language acquisition, inclusion, education and socialization, from birth to adulthood;

•  Apply a bilingual-bicultural framework to describing Deaf education and access to opportunities for employment and participation in society;

•  Identify the pros and cons of technological devices including hearing aids and cochlear implants;

•  Describe the current BC system of universal newborn hearing screening, early intervention programs, and support for families of Deaf children;

•  Define the various K-12 school placement options for Deaf students in BC, including mainstreaming, specialized programs, and the BC School for the Deaf;

•  Examine the existing programs, social services and cultural initiatives in BC that are meant to support Deaf people;

•  Describe recent advancements at the national and international levels in the recognition of Deaf people’s rights; and

•  Examine historical and current examples of Deaf representation in literature and popular media in North America.

Textbook Materials

Coursepack purchase required; check Douglas College book store.



No prerequisites.


No corequisites.


No equivalent courses.

Course Guidelines

Course Guidelines for previous years are viewable by selecting the version desired. If you took this course and do not see a listing for the starting semester / year of the course, consider the previous version as the applicable version.

Course Transfers

These are for current course guidelines only. For a full list of archived courses please see

Institution Transfer Details for INTR 1103
There are no applicable transfer credits for this course.

Course Offerings

Fall 2023