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Practicing Disability Studies in Education

Acting Toward Social Change

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Edited By David J. Connor, Jan W. Valle and Chris Hale

Practicing Disability Studies in Education: Acting Toward Social Change celebrates the diversity of contemporary work being developed by a range of scholars working within the field of Disability Studies in Education (DSE). The central idea of this volume is to share ways in which educators practice DSE in creative and eclectic ways in order to rethink, reframe, and reshape the current educational response to disability. Largely confined to the limitations of traditional educational discourse, this collective (and growing) group continues to push limits, break molds, assert the need for plurality, explore possibilities, move into the unknown, take chances, strategize to destabilize, and co-create new visions for what can be, instead of settling for what is. Much like jazz musicians who rely upon one another on stage to create music collectively, these featured scholars have been – and continue to – riff with one another in creating the growing body of DSE literature. In sum, this volume is DSE «at work.»
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6. An “In-Betweener” Ethnographer: From Anxiety to Fieldwork Methods in a Cross-Cultural Study of Bilingual Deaf Kindergartners

Extract



JOSEPH MICHAEL VALENTE

Mid-morning on May 5, 2009, Fikriye Kurban, Joe Tobin, and I rendezvous near the Arizona State University campus and drive to central Phoenix where the Phoenix School for the Deaf is located. We make our way quickly through the parking lot in 115-degree desert heat, looking more like journalists than anthropologists with our bulky cameras and tripods, shotgun microphones, and bags of gear in tow. The deaf school, with its Southwest architecture and outdoor hallways, looks to me like any other school in Phoenix that I have ever visited. When we walk through the tinted lobby doors, a woman welcomes us from behind the counter, simultaneously signing and speaking, “Hello, are you here visiting someone?”

“Yes,” I say, “we’re here to film in Patrick’s kindergarten classroom.”

Handing over a guest book, she motions for us to fill in our names. People coming in and going out of the lobby look at us curiously. I’m guessing it is the equipment that is catching their attention. Then I realize that everyone is signing with one another. Our research team has no way to know what is being said. We are sign-impaired.

I am overcome by shame. I am deaf1 and the so-called deaf culture expert of the research team, yet I cannot sign much beyond fingerspelling and a handful of words that my fingers awkwardly fumble over. I push my hurt pride aside and occupy my mind with a...

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