Black Deaf Resources

Online Resources

The documentary is produced by The LANGUAGE and LIFE PROJECT (LLP) at NC STATE. It is a non-profit outreach education endeavor to document and celebrate dialects, languages, and cultures of the United States. The LLP seeks to build awareness and appreciation of linguistic diversity through educational resources, television programs and award-winning documentaries.


Joseph Hill, PhD, National Technical Institute for the Deaf, delivered the presentation, "Why Does it Have to be Either/Or? Acknowledging the Social Identities and Practices" during the University of Chicago Center for Gesture, Sign, and Language Sign Language Identity panel held on February 19 at the Neubauer Collegium for Culture and Society. The panel, called "Roots, Diversity, Imagery: The Driving Force Behind Sign Language Identity," also included short talks by Marie Coppola, University of Connecticut and Douglas Ridloff, Deaf Poet, curator of ASL SLAM, NYC.

Joseph Hill presented Sign Language Interpreters: Practicing with a Socially Conscious Approach at StreetLeverage – Live 2015 | Boston. His presentation explores the importance of reflective practice as a means of examining one’s perspective on language ideology, social injustice, and the development of a socially conscious approach to interpreting.

As the time of segregation came to an end in the 1950s, children who were African American had to fight for their civil rights alongside adults. Students who were both deaf and African American during this time faced even more significant challenges. Provides an overview of the integration that took place during this decade at the Kendall School, which is now a day school affiliated with Gallaudet University, as well as a background of the students and adults involved. (Captioning provided by Gallaudet University.)

Dr. Glenn Anderson presents, "Still I Rise! The Enduring Legacy of Black Deaf Arkansans Before and After Integration."

After the Supreme Court's Brown vs. the Topeka Board of Education landmark decision in 1954 to end segregation, black students in Arkansas were relocated to white campuses. Consequently, much of the history of the black students was lost. Dr. Glenn Anderson's presentation is a compilation of the memories and stories shared by black deaf Arkansans ranging from those who attended school during the segregation era, to the first group of black students to integrate the Arkansas School for the Deaf in 1965, and afterwards.

From YouTube description: "Glenn Anderson the first deaf black man to receive his PhD in the United States. This video is captioned as many of you have been waiting. I'm sorry it has taken so long to get this version out. I hope you enjoy this fabulous story and stay tuned for more of his story.."

One of the challenges of gaining a broader appreciation of Deaf history is the need to examine the contributions of Deaf people of color. This article summarizes the contributions of black Deaf individuals to the scholarly and public history of the period from the 1980s to the present. We begin with the 1980s since that was the era when the landmark book by Ernest Hairston and Linwood Smith, Black and Deaf in America: Are We That Different? was published and the National Black Deaf Advocates organization was founded. We then progress through the 1990s and 2000s, noting historical developments such as the advancement of black Deaf individuals to key leadership positions, expanded collaborative efforts between Gallaudet University and the black Deaf community, and the growth of black Deaf history scholarship, which addresses a broad spectrum of topics. We conclude that these historical developments, among others, during these three and a half decades gave impetus to the emergence of a dynamic collective of black Deaf scholars, leaders, and artists to further contribute to our understanding and appreciation of Deaf history.

He was the first deaf African American to graduate from Gallaudet College in 1954 and worked toward achieving his dream of establishing 32 Deaf schools in Africa.

A narrative of Andrew Foster in American Sign Language.

The Southern School for the Deaf, or SSD as it is known to its Black Deaf alumni, was the last segregated Deaf school in America to close in 1978. We visited the campus with four SSD graduates as they remember their time at school.

Joseph Sarpy was the first professional Black Deaf actor. He shares his story with someone dear to him. #BlackHistoryMonth #BlackDeafHistory

Black Deaf Text Resources

Alabama Institute for the Deaf and Blind. 1892. Annual Report. Talladega: Author.

Alabama Institute for the Deaf and Blind. 1894. Annual Report. Talladega: Author.

Alabama Institute for the Deaf and Blind Archives, 1967, 1968.

Anderson, G. B. 1997. In their own words: Researching stories about the lives of multicultural Deaf people. Deaf Studies V: Toward 2000 – Unity and Diversity. Washington, D. C.: Gallaudet University, College for Continuing Education. 1-16.

Andrews, J., and D. Jordan. 1993. Minority and minority deaf professionals. American Annals of the Deaf 138: 388-396.

Aramburo, A. 1989. Sociolinguistic aspects of the Black Deaf community. In C. Lucas (ed.), The Sociolinguistics of the Deaf Community. New York: Academic Press. 103-122.

Baer, A.M., A. Okrent, and M. Rose. 1996. Noticing variation in ASL: Metalinguistic knowledge and language attitudes across racial and regional lines. In L. Byers and M. Rose (eds.), Communication Forum, Washington, D.C.: School of Communication, Gallaudet University. 1-33.

Bardes, A. P. 1952. The Alabama School for Negro Deaf. The Silent Worker, June.

Baynton, D. C. 1996. Forbidden Signs: American Culture and the Campaign against Sign Language. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Bradford, W.L. 1943. Work at the Louisiana State School for Negro Deaf. American Annals of the Deaf 88: 302-307.

Burch, S., and H. Joyner. 2007. Unspeakable: The Story of Junius Wilson. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press.

Cohen, O.P., J. Fischgrund, and R. Redding. 1990. Deaf children from ethnic linguistic and racial minority backgrounds. American Annals of the Deaf 135: 67-73.

Crockett, M. H. and B. Crockett-Dease. 1990. Through the Years 1867-1977. Light Out of Darkness: A History of the North Carolina School for the Negro Blind and Deaf. Raleigh: Barefeet Press Inc.

Croneberg, C. 1965. Appendix D: Sign language dialects. In W. C. Stokoe et al., A Dictionary of American Sign Language. Silver Spring, MD: Linstok Press. 313-319.

Crouch, R. and J. Hawkins. 1983. Out of Silence and Darkness: A History of the Alabama Institute for the Deaf and Blind. Troy, AL: Troy State University Press.

Dunn, L. 1995. Education, culture, and community: The Black Deaf experience. In M. Garretson (ed.), Deafness: Life and Culture II. A Deaf American Monograph, vol. 45. Silver Spring, MD: National Association of the Deaf. 37-41.

Flowers, T. 1915. Education of the colored deaf. In Proceedings of the Twentieth Convention of American Instructors of the Deaf, 1914. Washington, D. C." US Government Printing Office.

Gannon, J. R. 1981. Deaf Heritage: A Narrative History of Deaf America. Silver Spring, MD: National Association of the Deaf.

Guggenheim, L. 1993. Ethnic variation in ASL: The signing of African Americans and how it is influenced by topic. In E. Winston (ed.), Communication Forum. Washington, D.C.: School of Communication, Gallaudet University. 51-76.

Hairston, E., and L. Smith. 1983. Black and Deaf in America: Are We that Different? Silver Spring, MD: TJ Publishers.

History of the Negro Department at the Tennessee School for the Deaf. 100th Anniversary of the History of the Tennessee School, 1845-1945. Tennessee School for the Deaf.

Jowers, S. 2005. Ending the Educational Exile of Black Deaf Children from Washington, D.C.: Miller v. Board of Education of the District of Columbia. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Howard University.

Lane, H., R. Hoffmeister, and B. Bahan. 1996. Journey into the DEAF^WORLD. San Diego, CA: DawnSign Press.

Lewis, J. 1998. Ebonics in American Sign Language: Stylistic variation in African American signers. In Deaf Studies V: Toward Unity and Diversity. Conference proceedings. Washington, D.C.: College for Continuing Education, Gallaudet University. 229-240.

Lewis, J., C. Palmer, and L. Williams. 1995. Existence of and attitudes toward Black variations of sign language. In L. Byers, J. Chaiken, and M. Mueller (eds.), Communication Forum 1995. Washington, D.C.: School of Communication, Gallaudet University. 17-48.

Lucas, C., R. Bayley, R. Reed, and A. Wulf. 2001. Lexical variation in African American and White signing. American Speech 76: 339-360.

Lucas, C., R. Bayley, and C. Valli. 2001. Sociolinguistic Variation in American Sign Language. Washington, D.C.: Gallaudet University Press.

Lucas, C., R. Bayley, and C. Valli. 2003. What’s Your Sign for PIZZA? An Introduction to Variation in American Sign Language. Washington, D.C.: Gallaudet University Press.

Lucas, C., and C. Valli. 1992. Language Contact in the American Deaf Community. San Diego: Academic Press.

McCaskill, C. 2005. The education of Black Deaf Americans in the 20th century: Policy implications for administrators in residential schools for the Deaf. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Gallaudet University.

Netterville, S. L. 1938. The New State School for Negro Deaf in Louisiana. American Annals of the Deaf 83: 448- 449.

Settles, C. J. 1940. Normal training for colored teachers. American Annals of the Deaf 85: 209-215.

Tabak, J. 2006. Significant Gestures: A History of ASL. Westport, CT: Praeger.

White, S. 1990. Papers on Black Deaf research project, MS118 Box 1, Folder 2. Gallaudet University Archives.

Woodward, J. 1976. Black southern signing. Language in Society 5:211-218.

Woodward, J., C. Erting, and S. Oliver. 1976. Facing and hand(l)ing variation in American Sign Language. Sign Language Studies 10: 43-52.

Woodward, J., and S. DeSantis. 1977. Two to one it happens: Dynamic phonology in two sign languages. Sign Language Studies 17: 329-346.

Wright, M. H. 1999. Sounds like Home: Growing Up Black and Deaf in the South. Washington, D.C.: Gallaudet University Press.

Yates, F. P. 2004. Brown vs. Board of Education and its impact on Staunton’s Virginia School for the Deaf and Blind. Unpublished manuscript, Virginia School for the Deaf and Blind, museum, Staunton, Virginia.