Storytelling and Sign Language

Christina's Capstone Project

Category: Resources

Character List

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Research Journal: Themes and Structure

There are several themes and ideas I hope to address in my play. Depending on the type of information used, these themes may overlap and/or blend together. Some the central ideas include:

  • Education of the Deaf: how do students, teachers, parents, and administrators perceive it? Does it need to be improved or reformed? How and why?
  • Self-Identity vs. Societal Perception in the Deaf Community: What influence does society have on the formation of self-identity in the Deaf Community?
  • Differences between the Deaf and Hearing “worlds”: What cultural differences exist? Are they really so different after all?
  • Motivation: What motivates hearing people to engage with the Deaf community and vice versa?

 

To help keep these themes at the forefront of the writing, I’m going to continue to reflect on the notions of “stories” and “identity,” as well as the interplay between these two things (Thanks, Eakin!). So to that, I hope my final piece answers the following questions:

  • What are stories? Who tells them? Why do they tell them? Does the way/manner (spoken, sung, danced, signed, written, painted, etc.) in which people tell these stories matter and how?
  • Does one’s concept of identity influence the stories they tell? Or does society’s concept of another’s identity influence the stories that one chooses to tell?

 

Structure

Ultimately, the final structure will depend on the information gathered from interviewees and other sources. Hopefully, it will follow the structure below:

structure

Here we have the typical dramatic structure of a play complete with exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution. This will work best if the play follows one (perhaps, two) main character and creates an action depicting his journey. This could ultimately work with a Deaf adult character as the “lead” taking the audience through his/her journey in the education system and include scenes of identity conflict and resolution. This “lead” character would recall his/her story told with the various perspectives of his family, friends, audiologists, therapists, community, Deaf community, etc. So far, using this structure would lead to the following scene break down:

  • The audience is introduced to the main character as he/she recalls their story beginning with diagnosis. This section would include information from the young child’s perspective, parents’ response to diagnosis, reactions of family and friends. Additionally, it would include statistical information about Deafness and its culture.
  • Conflict: here the parents and child are faced with a choice—what educational route to the take for their child. ASL? Total communication? Oral only communication? This section will include different viewpoints of how to raise a child with a “disability” (is it considered disabling or different?). Are there more limits or restrictions placed on this child?
  • The education system: In this section, the main character will show the audience his/her journey through the education system. Dialogue and information will include teachers, administrators, parents, peers, and therapists from both the Deaf and hearing community. It will conclude with his/her graduation and pursuance of a career.
  • Self-realization: Here, the main character will begin to fully express his/her self-identity. At this point, the story will continue with more dialogue and monologues from the “lead,” showing his capturing and exposition of his own story.

 

Interview Questions

Questions about Deaf culture

  • Name, Age, Location, Education/Career
  • Do you use American Sign Language (ASL)? Would you consider yourself fluent? Is it your primary mode of communication? How many years have you been signing?
  • What is your involvement in the Deaf Community, if any?
  • How long have you been involved in the Deaf Community? And in what capacities?
  • How connected do you feel to the Deaf Community? Describe this connection and how it has changed/evolved.
  • Do you consider yourself part of the “hearing world” or “deaf world”? Both or neither? Why?

Questions about personhood (story)

  • Describe a typical day/week in your life.
  • What are your favorite hobbies? Activities? Sports?
  • Who is your role model and why?
  • What are 3 words friends would use to describe you? What are 3 words your family would use to describe you? What are 3 words you would use to describe yourself?
  • What something people underestimate about you? Why do you think that is the case?
  • If you were to write an autobiography, what would you title it? Why?

 

Note: Questions that include identifying information will be changed to protect identity. Depending on the interviews involvement in the Deaf community, the second set of questions may be altered to reflect their opinions of the Deaf community. For example, “what something people underestimate about you?” may be rephrased to a Deaf education teacher to say “What something people underestimate about your students? Do you think it is true? How to you and your students respond to that judgment?”