Critical Literacy: Deaf Adults Speak Out

Charlotte Enns


The purpose of this paper is to describe a variety of teaching and learning strategies that were used within a classroom of Deaf adults participating in a high school English course as part of an upgrading program. The class was conducted in a bilingual manner; that is, being Deaf and communicating with American Sign Language (ASL) was not regarded as a deficit, but as a cultural experience comparable to and distinct from cultures based on oral languages. The students’ knowledge of ASL was used to help them develop their skills in English literacy. The emphasis in the classroom was to empower students to take responsibility for their own learning. Teaching activities were designed to help students create meaning around larger social issues. The goal was to improve their English reading and writing skills, and help them relate to what was happening in the world around them and lead them into action.

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