Special Issue "Translanguaging in Deaf Communities"

A special issue of Languages (ISSN 2226-471X).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 August 2022 | Viewed by 1764

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Dr. Hannah M. Dostal
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Curriculum and Instruction, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT 06269, USA
Interests: writing instruction; deaf education; literacy studies
Dr. Leala Holcomb
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
College of Education, Health, and Human Sciences, The University of Tennessee, 1126 Volunteer Blvd, Knoxville, TN 38996-3442, USA
Interests: bilingual education; deaf education; emergent literacy; writing instruction
Dr. Gloshanda Lawyer
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
The Languages and Cultures Department, Utah Valley University, Orem, UT 84058, USA
Interests: language justice; disability justice; multilingualism in deaf populations; decolonization

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

We are inviting papers for a Special Issue of Languages focusing on translanguaging in Deaf, DeafBlind, DeafDisabled, and Hard of Hearing (DDBDDHH) communities.

Members of DDBDDHH communities who know more than one language or language variety engage in translanguaging at home, in the classroom, and in society. Unique to these communities, translanguaging occurs between languages expressed in different modes, including tactile, signed, written, and spoken, such as American Sign Language (ASL) and English in the United States (Swanwick, 2017).

DDBDDHH people are known for their ability to employ strategies using all linguistic resources they have to increase understanding and clarity, and convey their message to monolinguals and bi- and multi-linguals of varying proficiencies (Kusters et al., 2017). For example, families that use both ASL and English frequently switch back and forth between both languages while signing, speaking, and/or writing at home. As soon as DDBDDHH children begin accessing English, they spontaneously inject non-ASL words such as “is” and “a” in their signed expressions. While reading, DDBDDHH individuals turn to translanguaging by signing aloud to increase comprehension (Hoffman et al., 2017). These examples exemplify the inevitable language contact between minoritized languages (e.g. American Sign Language, Mexican Sign Language) and dominant languages (e.g., English, Spanish) that is consistent in practically all aspects of DDBDDHH people’s lives (Snodden, 2017). These translanguaging experiences and skills unique to DDBDDHH communities are understudied and underappreciated.

Although translanguaging has always existed in DDBDDHH communities, tensions persist in defining and embracing translanguaging (Meulder et al., 2019). One potential influence on this tension is that the majority of family members, interpreters, educators, administrators, and researchers who interact with DDBDDHH individuals are hearing, non-native users of signed language (Simms et al., 2008). Because most hearing people are still developing proficiency in signed language (Lederberg et al., 2013), it is challenging for them to become language models (e.g., Caselli et al., 2020) and promote accessible and equitable translanguaging practices inside and outside of school settings (Hall, 2017).

Researchers studying translanguaging note concerns that translanguaging could inadvertently privilege the dominant language (Cenoz & Gorter, 2011; Moriarty, 2015; Skutnabb-Kangas, 2009). For example, hearing people lacking fluency in ASL have historically borrowed words from ASL to create English-based signed systems that purport to reinforce English development; then, define effective translanguaging practices as the use of these contrived systems that did not originate from DDBDDHH communities (Kusters et al., 2017; Swanrick, 2016). On the other hand, hearing researchers and educators often measure success based on whether DDBDDHH learners perform as well as hearing monolingual speakers and interpret their translanguaging as evidence of delays and gaps in their linguistic competence of the dominant language (Geers et al., 2017; Mayer & Trezek, 2020). Consequently, there are mixed views on defining and embracing translanguaging among DDBDDHH individuals (Meulder et al., 2019).

Some scholars argue that minoritized people’s everyday uses of two or more languages should be normalized and dispute the expectation that bilinguals should/do perform identically to a monolingual speaker of each language, especially in school settings (Vogel & Garcia, 2017). Translanguaging in education is described as as “an approach to the use of language, bilingualism, and the education of bilinguals that considers the language practices of bilinguals not as two autonomous language systems ...but as one linguistic repertoire with features that have been societally constructed as belonging to two separate languages” (Garcia & Li Wei, 2014, p. 2). Thus, the implicated goal of translanguaging theory is to challenge purist ideologies surrounding language that have formed societal hierarchies favoring monolingual dominant language speakers (Garcıa & Leiva, 2013). When discussing and enacting translanguaging in schools, it is suggested that the minoritized language is put on an equitable footing with the dominant language (Canagarajah, 2013; Garcia, 2009).

Some strides have been made in schools towards intentional efforts to develop proficiency in minoritized languages so that students can engage in sustainable translanguaging (Cenoz & Gorter, 2011). For example, ASL/English bilingual deaf schools with teachers and administrators fluent in both languages have adopted the minority language paradigm to promote formal instruction and proficiency in the minoritized language (De Meulder et al., 2019). Another example is the study of raciolinguistics gaining grounds in examining how race and language influence each other (Rosa & Flores, 2017). Teachers of color are increasingly sharing their experiences, perspectives, and pedagogical approaches in which translanguaging has made a positive impact on learning (Garcıa & Leiva, 2013). Garcia and Lin (2017) explained, “... groups that have been marginalized and have undergone language loss and shift, bilingual education is a way of revitalizing their language practices” (p.127). In this way, translanguaging can be a source of empowerment, respect, and support for DDBDDHH bi- and multi-linguals’ authentic language practices.

The following examples illustrate the need to describe more fully different aspects of the role of race and translanguaging through the lens of DDBDDHH scholars of color. Latinx DDBDDHH students in public and deaf schools are routinely expected to use ASL and/or English, and not use their home languages such as Mexican Sign Language or Spanish (Garcia-Fernandez, 2014). Gallaudet University hosted a nationwide webinar in 2021 in which all DDBDDHH panelists of color agreed that ASL was “too white”. From the perspective of multilingual educators, Garate-Estes, Lawyer, and Garcia-Fernandez (in press) translanguaging should be a standard educational practice in education with Latinx DDBDDHH students.

The aim of this Special Issue is to build a base of knowledge about translanguaging as defined through the lens of DDBDDHH scholars. Therefore, we invite submissions focused on the sociolinguistic, raciolinguistic, sociocultural, cognitive, political, and/or educational aspects in which translanguaging exists in DDBDDHH communities. Our goal is to center the lived experiences, epistemologies, and discourse of DDBDDHH individuals and expand knowledge of or about their translanguaging practices. We invite papers that are theoretical, anecdotal, qualitative, quantitative, or mixed methods.

We eagerly welcome scholars to submit proposals about translanguaging, which can address, but are not limited to, the following topics:

  • What are deaf-centered translanguaging practices?
  • What does translanguaging look like in deaf-to-deaf interactions with varying levels of proficiency and variations in both a signed language and the dominant language?
  • What does translanguaging look like in deaf-to-hearing interactions with varying levels of proficiency and variations in both a signed language and the dominant language?
  • What does translanguaging look like in adult-to-deaf or coda children?
  • How do (Certified) Deaf Interpreters use translanguaging?
  • How do (Certified) Hearing Interpreters use translanguaging?
  • The minority language paradigm: language purity, language separation, and translanguaging in signed language
  • Valuing translanguaging while valuing complete access to language
  • What are deaf children’s translanguaging practices?
  • What are hard of hearing children’s translanguaging practices?
  • Translanguaging in signing bilingual education
  • Translanguaging and fingerspelling
  • Code-blending (Sim-Com) and translanguaging in hard of hearing/coda/deaf individuals
  • Translanguaging among hearing teachers who lack bilingual fluency
  • Learner-led and teacher-led translanguaging practices
  • Translanguaging in emergent deaf bilinguals and fluent deaf bilinguals
  • Translanguaging in deaf children or adults’ writing
  • Ensuring that majority language (e.g., spoken language or English) does not dominate during translanguaging in classes or society
  • Creating a space where signed language does not compete with the majority language
  • Multigenerational deaf people’s perspectives and experiences on translanguaging
  • Multilingual deaf people’s perspectives and experiences on translanguaging
  • Raciolinguistics in translanguaging with DDBDDHH individuals of color
  • ASL teachers’ uses of translanguaging when teaching hearing students
  • Translanguaging between international deaf people using different signed languages
  • Translanguaging to scaffold English
  • Translanguaging to scaffold ASL
  • Translanguaging to teach different content areas
  • Translanguaging in teacher preparation programs
  • Translanguaging in natural social interactions

We request that, prior to submitting a manuscript, interested authors initially submit a proposed title and an abstract of 400–600 words summarizing their intended contribution. Please send it to the guest editors ([email protected], [email protected], and [email protected]) or to /Languages/ editorial office ([email protected]). Abstracts will be reviewed by the guest editors for the purposes of ensuring proper fit within the scope of the special issue. Full manuscripts will undergo a double-blind peer-review.

  • 1st Abstract submission deadline: 31 December 2021

  • Notification of abstract acceptance: 1 February 2022

  • 2nd Abstract submission deadline: 31 March 2022
  • Notification of abstract acceptance: 1 May 2022
  • Full manuscript deadline: 1 August 2022


Allard, K., & Pichler, D. C. (2018). Multi-modal visually-oriented translanguaging among Deaf signers. Translation and Translanguaging in Multilingual Contexts, 4(3), 384-404. https://doi.org/10.1075/ttmc.00019.all

Canagarajah, A. S. (2006). The place of world Englishes in composition: Pluralization continued. College Composition and Communication, 586-619. https://www.jstor.org/stable/20456910

Caselli, N. K., Hall, W. C., & Henner, J. (2020). American Sign Language interpreters in public schools: An illusion of inclusion that perpetuates language deprivation. Maternal and Child Health Journal, 24(11), 1323-1329. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10995-020-02975-7

Cenoz, J., & Gorter, D. (2017). Minority languages and sustainable translanguaging: Threat or opportunity?. Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development, 38(10), 901-912. https://doi.org/10.1080/01434632.2017.1284855

De Meulder, M., Kusters, A., Moriarty, E., & Murray, J. J. (2019). Describe, don't prescribe. The practice and politics of translanguaging in the context of deaf signers. Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development, 40(10), 892-906. https://doi.org/10.1080/01434632.2019.1592181

Flores, N. L. (2019). Translanguaging into raciolinguistic ideologies: A personal reflection on the legacy of Ofelia García. Journal of Multilingual Education Research, 9(1), 5. https://research.library.fordham.edu/jmer/vol9/iss1/5

García, O. (2009). Education, multilingualism and translanguaging in the 21st century. In T. Skutnabb-Kangas, R. Phillipson, A. Mohanty, and M. Panda, (Eds), Social justice through multilingual education (pp. 140-158). Multilingual Matters. https://doi.org/10.21832/9781847691910-011

Garcia, O. (2009). Bilingual education in the 21st century: A global perspective. Wiley-Blackwell.

Garcia, O., Johnson, S. I., & Seltzer, K. (2017).The translanguaging classroom: Leveraging student bilingualism for learning. Calson, Inc.

García O. & Leiva C. (2014) Theorizing and enacting translanguaging for social justice. In A. Blackledge & A. Creese (Eds.), Heteroglossia as practice and pedagogy  (pp. 199-216). Springer, Dordrecht. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-007-7856-6_11

García, O., & Lin, A. M. (2017). Translanguaging in bilingual education. Bilingual and Multilingual Education, 117-130. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-02258-1_9

García, O., & Wei, L. (2014). Language, bilingualism and education. In Translanguaging: Language, bilingualism and education (pp. 46-62). Palgrave Pivot. https://doi.org/10.1057/9781137385765_4

García-Fernández, C. M. (2014). Deaf-Latina/Latino critical theory in education: The lived experiences and multiple intersecting identities of deaf-Latina/o high school students [Unpublished doctoral dissertation, The University of Texas at Austin].

Geers, A. E., Mitchell, C. M., Warner-Czyz, A., Wang, N. Y., Eisenberg, L. S., & CDaCI Investigative Team. (2017). Early sign language exposure and cochlear implantation benefits. Pediatrics, 140(1). https://doi.org/10.1542/peds.2016-3489

Hall, W. C. (2017). What you don’t know can hurt you: The risk of language deprivation by impairing sign language development in deaf children. Maternal and Child Health Journal, 21(5), 961-965. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10995-017-2287-y

Hoffman, D. L., Wolsey, J. L. A., Andrews, J. F., & Clark, M. D. (2017). Translanguaging supports reading with deaf adult bilinguals: A qualitative approach. The Qualitative Report, 22(7), 1925. https://doi.org/10.46743/2160-3715/2017.2760

Humphries, T., Kushalnagar, P., Mathur, G., Napoli, D. J., Padden, C., Rathmann, C., & Smith, S. (2017). Discourses of prejudice in the professions: the case of sign languages. Journal of Medical Ethics, 43(9), 648-652. http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/medethics-2015-103242

Kusters, A., Spotti, M., Swanwick, R., & Tapio, E. (2017). Beyond languages, beyond modalities: Transforming the study of semiotic repertoires. International Journal of Multilingualism, 14(3), 219-232. https://doi.org/10.1080/14790718.2017.1321651

Kusters, A. (2018, July 10). Researching language ideologies and attitudes about international sign. Mobile deaf. http://mobiledeaf.org.uk/researching-language-ideologies-and-attitudes-about-international-sign/.

Lederberg, A. R., Schick, B., & Spencer, P. E. (2013). Language and literacy development of deaf and hard-of-hearing children: Successes and challenges. Developmental Psychology, 49(1), 15. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0029558

Lewis, G., Jones, B., & Baker, C. (2012). Translanguaging: Developing its conceptualisation and contextualisation. Educational Research and Evaluation, 18(7), 655-670. https://doi.org/10.1080/13803611.2012.718490

Mayer, C., & Trezek, B. J. (2020). English literacy outcomes in sign bilingual programs: Current state of the knowledge. American Annals of the Deaf, 164(5), 560-576. https://doi.org/10.1353/aad.2020.0003

Otheguy, Garcia, & Reid (2015). Clarifying translanguaging and deconstructing named languages: A perspective from linguistics. Applied Linguistics Review, 6(3), 281-307. https://doi.org/10.1515/applirev-2015-0014

Rosa, J., & Flores, N. (2017). Unsettling race and language: Toward a raciolinguistic perspective. Language in Society, 46(5), 621-647. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0047404517000562

Simms, L., Rusher, M., Andrews, J. F., & Coryell, J. (2008). Apartheid in deaf education: Examining workforce diversity. American Annals of the Deaf, 153(4), 384-395. https://www.jstor.org/stable/26234535

Skutnabb-Kangas, T., Phillipson, R., Panda, M., & Mohanty, A. (2009). MLE concepts, goals, needs and expense: English for all or achieving justice?. In T. Skutnabb-Kangas, R. Phillipson, A. Mohanty, and M. Panda, (Eds.), Social justice through multilingual education (pp. 320-344). Multilingual Matters.

Snoddon, K. (2017). Uncovering translingual practices in teaching parents classical ASL varieties. International Journal of Multilingualism, 14(3), 303-316. https://doi.org/10.1080/14790718.2017.1315812

Swanwick, R. (2016) Scaffolding learning through classroom talk: The role of translanguaging. In M. Marschark and P.E. Spencer (Eds.), The oxford handbook of deaf studies in language (pp. 420-429). Oxford University Press.

Swanwick, R. (2017). Translanguaging, learning and teaching in deaf education. International Journal of Multilingualism, 14(3), 233-249. https://doi.org/10.1080/14790718.2017.1315808

Tanner, J. A., & Doré, N. (2019). Translanguaging and the No Voice policy in L2 sign language contexts. OLBI Journal, 10. https://doi.org/10.18192/olbiwp.v10i0.3537

Vogel, S., & García, O. (2017). Translanguaging. Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Education. Retrieved from https://academicworks.cuny.edu/gc_pubs

Dr. Hannah M. Dostal
Dr. Leala Holcomb
Dr. Gloshanda Lawyer
Guest Editors

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  • translanguaging
  • deaf
  • deaf–blind
  • deaf–disabled
  • hard of hearing
  • bilingualism
  • multilingualism
  • bilingual education
  • deaf education
  • signed language
  • deaf culture

Published Papers

This special issue is now open for submission.
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