Emma Reilly

Project title: Fostering Identities: the building of deaf youths’ identities through participatory design methods.

Historically, deafness has been portrayed as a medical deficit. However, Deaf Studies researchers argued for recognition of deaf communities as cultural and linguistic minorities. My research will focus on deaf young people in Scotland, adopting the premise that their social environment is crucial in the construction of their identities. With the majority of deaf youths attending mainstream education and the closure of many deaf clubs, there is a need to explore how they are connecting in current society and how this influences identity formation.

Many studies recognise that deaf young people often feel they are ‘in between’ communities due to an increase in cochlear implantation, spoken language exposure and common mainstream educational practices. Therefore, my research will highlight how; deaf youths define and understand their identities, their perceptions towards various communication methods and the role their identities play in navigating modern society.

The study will utilise participatory research methods to gather data and allow other intersections of deaf young people’s identities to emerge. The research is innovative in its use of visual methods. The evaluation of these methods will contribute new knowledge and create workshop resources for schools, youth clubs and professionals working with deaf youths.

Awarded: Carnegie PhD Scholarship

Field: Social Sciences

University: Heriot-Watt University

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