The Deaf Studies bachelor's degree program at Columbia College Chicago -- the only Deaf Studies program in the Midwest -- combines insight into the cultural aspects of the Deaf community, rigorous instruction in American Sign Language, and exposure to a variety of scholarly and creative fields in Columbia's innovative environment.
All Deaf Studies students complete a capstone project during their final semester in the program. It is the last scholarly experience that incorporates concepts and techniques learned throughout their undergraduate studies, through which students can make original scholarly or professional contributions to their field of choice.
"Why Deaf Children Need Sign Language"
Language deprivation in Deaf children caused by misinformation at the hands of professionals may be avoided if we took the necessary steps to inform the public and instill new counselors who are knowledgable, connected to the Deaf community, and most importantly, are able to provide accurate information and services to best support parents of Deaf children. Ninety percent of Deaf children are born to hearing parents, many of whom have never met a Deaf individual before their own child. Providing information and services such as ASL lessons, clubs, and support groups helps connect the family to the deaf community and feel positive rather than a doctor telling the family their child needs to be "fixed"
Project Deliverable: Thesis
"Deaf Representation in the Media: How Changes in Hollywood have Impacted and been Impacted by Deaf People"
This is a relevant topic because media has become such an important part of our lives and culture and analyzing the impact that representation in media has on us is important to understand the growth and downfalls of how the Deaf community is portrayed. With the availability of media at our fingertips, we are rapidly consuming media but don't always take in the repercussions of what we are seeing and therefore absorbing. this easily accessible media has inspired a lot of new research into representation in the media but is often focused on individual movies or television shows or even on individual companies or directors. There are so many stereotypes, tropes, and themes that the Deaf community disagrees with being used to represent them, but are rarely listened to by the hearing writers, directors, and studios. Media has been an incredibly influential form of communication that has changed various aspects of our lives. I plan on challenging the notion of accepting without analyzing what is shown in any form of media by explaining in depth the stereotypes, tropes, and themes being portrayed through Deaf and Hard of Hearing characters.
Deliverable: Addendum to Schuchman's "Hollywood Speaks: Deafness and the Film Entertainment Industry" (1988)
"Choices: Helping Parents of Deaf Children Make the Right Decision"
The statistic that 90% of deaf children are born to hearing parents is well known within the Deaf world, and Gallaudet University predicts that only 40% (less than half) of these deaf children use sign language at home. Doctors provide hearing parents of deaf children with an overwhelming amount of information about the "best" methods of communication for their child. Oftentimes, parents end up choosing speech over ASL, despite conclusive evidence suggesting oralism alone can be damaging for a deaf child's development. This project serves to answer the question: why? What bits of information are parents missing that make this a popular choice?
Deliverable: Website Prototype