Swarthmore Hosts Conference "Around the Deaf World in Two Days (It's a Small World): Sign Languages, Social Issues/Civil Rights, Creativity

Anita Pace

Swarthmore College Hosts Conference
"Around the Deaf World in Two Days (It's a Small World): Sign Languages, Social Issues/Civil Rights, Creativity"

by Anita Pace
02/11/2008

Noted scholars and activists working with deaf communities around the world addressed a wide range of topics at Swarthmore College on Fri., Feb. 29 and Sat., Mar. 1. All events at the conference, "Around the Deaf World in Two Days (It's a Small World): Sign Languages, Social Issues/Civil Rights, Creativity," are free and open to the public and took place in Science Center 101.

"This is the first conference in the country to address such a broad range of issues in a comprehensive way," says conference organizer Donna Jo Napoli, Professor of Linguistics at Swarthmore. "We hope this is the beginning of a much larger conversation."

The symposium included:

  • a presentation about a nomadic Bedouin community in Israel, all of whose members can sign, whether hearing or deaf;
  • a dramatic performance by students from the Pennsylvania School for the Deaf;
  • a keynote address and panel on sign languages, focusing on sign used by deaf people in Brazil, Britain, Croatia, Germany, Japan, Nicaragua, among others;
  • a keynote address and panel on social and political issues of deaf people in Britain, China, Japan, Kenya, New Zealand, among others, particularly Third World countries;
  • a discussion of creativity in sign related to poetry, storytelling, and humor; and
  • a performance by one of Britain's most notable deaf poets.

The conference began with a keynote address by author and scholar Carol Padden, a world-renowned linguist of sign languages, on Fri., Feb. 29, at 8p.m. ASL (American Sign Language) interpreters and also CART (Computer-Assisted Real Time) were present at all necessary events. For a complete schedule and speaker information, please visit: www.swarthmore.edu/SocSci/dnapoli1/Aroundtheworld.html.

This conference is made possible by the generous support of the William J. Cooper Foundation at Swarthmore College. For more information, please contact Swarthmore College Professor of Linguistics Donna Jo Napoli at 610-328-8422.