Deaf Studies Lecture Series: April 2018

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April 19, 2018 @ 1:15 PM – 3:00 PM
Van Wijkplaats 2, Room 002
2311 BX Leiden
Leiden Deaf Studies

Presenters: Diane Lillo-Martin, Sam de Schutter


Sign Language Acquisition: Grammatical Development (Acquisition of American Sign Language by Deaf Children)


Diane Lillo-Martin, University of Connecticut


This presentation will share the results of an on-going study of the acquisition of American Sign Language (ASL) by Deaf children of Deaf, signing parents. I will provide information about the data we are using and the methods that we have constructed for assessing grammatical development, along with results from children and their mothers. These data will contribute to benchmarks for typical development of ASL with input from birth, taking into consideration sign-specific grammatical phenomena.


“Help Build our Deaf Nation”: A Transnational History of the Deaf Community in Kenya, 1950s-1980s


Sam de Schutter, Leiden University


“Help Build our Deaf Nation” was the motto of the first association of deaf people in Kenya, the Nairobi Welfare Association of the Deaf, which was established in 1976. The 1980s saw the establishment of many more such associations and the creation of a National Association of the Deaf in 1987. Parallel with this process, the 1980s were also a key decade for the development of Kenyan Sign Language. In this talk, I would like to explore why the 1980s have been such a dynamic period for Deaf people in Kenya. I will do this by (1) approaching this history from a transnational perspective and (2) framing this period within a much longer history that goes back to the period of late colonialism.

In doing this, I will consider some key actors, from charitable organizations at the end of British colonial rule, over the International Labour Organization since the 1960s, to the Swedish organizations that helped in setting up the Kenya National Association of the Deaf. I will also consider some key events, most importantly the creation of a national Kenyan disability policy at the end of the 1960s and the National and International Year of Disabled Persons in 1980 and 1981 respectively. I ultimately aim at providing a better understanding of the coming into being of a national Deaf community in Kenya, while simultaneously framing this history in its proper transnational context.


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