Society for American Sign Language Journal

Document Type



This article is written by three Deaf women-scholars who pioneered Deaf Women’s Studies (DWS) about thirty plus years ago: the discipline arose from the need to explore the Deaf female experience (Kelly, 2016). Then, the 1990’s was when the DWS coursework was first developed and offered in American academia. To gain a greater understanding for DWS, the article begins by reviewing the emergence of both Black Studies and Women’s Studies as academic fields and how these were the impetus for DWS. A discussion about the Deaf women’s experiences during different periods of American history is given in detail. A brief coverage of the history of Deaf Studies as a discipline shows how it inspired the pioneers to establish the DWS field. Gaps in curricula, resources, and corpus as they appeared at the time that DWS began are described. Finally, the article devotes substantial space to the experiences that the authors had in developing courses, its syllabi, and teaching about Deaf women. A number of current challenges and achievements point to a continued pressing strong need for DWS to gain strength through research and scholarship.



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