Personal experience narratives in the deaf community: Identifying deaf-world typicality

Davidson, Lesley (2017) Personal experience narratives in the deaf community: Identifying deaf-world typicality. Masters thesis, University of Central Lancashire.

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The Deaf community in Britain comprises people who use British Sign Language (BSL) to communicate and who share similar lived experiences. The storied lives of Deaf people, told in the community through personal experience narratives, provide insight into the issues that arise from being Deaf in a primarily hearing world. This thesis explores personal experience narratives told by 24 Deaf people from across the UK in an attempt to reveal the typicality embedded within signed personal experience narratives. As a study of human experiences, a qualitative approach is taken and this is reinforced with some numerical data that reveals the frequency of occurrence of patterns across the data sets. This qualitative research study explores signed narratives derived from two main sources: The British Sign Language Corpus and an additional data set collected through fieldwork.
In the study, a thematic analysis methodology is employed to answer the research questions, and the findings are divided into cultural and interactional themes. Five latent themes are identified from the data analysis process: Communication, Education, Travel, Access and Community. Further categorisation of the data resulted in a series of sub-themes, comprising: getting attention; signing; lack of understanding; mouthings/gestures; use of light; visuality; missed information; reading and writing; technology; and bonding. The study explores personal experiences that reflect the typicality embedded within the narratives, and concludes that the shared personal experiences of Deaf people are related to the consequences of communicating in an auditory-based society, and the effects of the educational provision for deaf children in the UK. The study also concludes that academic understanding of the lived experiences of Deaf people would benefit from further research of personal experience narratives told by Deaf people in order to expand existing knowledge and provide information to the Deaf community.

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