An article written by UALR graduate student Clint Brockway of Cave City will be published in the inaugural issue of the Journal of Undergraduate Interpreting Studies (JUIS) next month. The article is on the socio-linguistic variation in the black deaf population in the U.S.
The online journal, published by the National Interpreter Education Center at Northeastern University in Boston, showcases research from its Outcome Circle programs, a learning laboratory of interpreter education programs across the nation.
Brockway’s research was designed to examine the existence of a black variety of American Sign Language, much like the African American English that linguists have studied extensively. If there was another variety, he wanted to know how it differs from standard ASL.
“My article reports that ASL does exhibit variation in the same ways as spoken languages, and that one example of dialectic variation is Black ASL (BASL),” Brockway said. “The project applied the work of socio-linguist and race scholar John McWhorter to establish BASL’s validity as a dialect of ASL. The article also argues that the segregated education system in the United States left black deaf students with unequal access to education and visual language models, which gave rise to this linguistic variation.”
Brockway, who earned a bachelor’s degree in American Sign Language (ASL)/English, and a minor in linguistics at UALR in 2011, is working on a master’s degree in liberal studies. He also earned his associate degree from UALR in interpretation in 2010.
He began the research for the article as an undergraduate, mentored by Dr. Glenn Anderson in UALR’s Interpreter Education Program in the Department of Counseling, Adult, and Rehabilitation Education.
As part of his research, Brockway attended a reunion of students who attended the Madison School, the segregated school for black deaf students in operation from 1949 to 1965.
“I could not have asked for a better opportunity,” says Brockway. “The timing was perfect, and the field shows increasing interest in this topic. I couldn’t have done this project this well without all of these things and the help of so many other people like Ella Irby, president of the Little Rock Black Deaf Advocates, and the attendees of the Madison School reunion.”
Last year, Brockway won first place in the Professional Studies and Education category in UALR’s Undergraduate Research Expo.