Deaf studies

A degree in deaf studies means learning a new language, exploring social needs, functions and responses and addressing people from all walks of life. Martin Atherton guides us through this highly specialised course

As someone who took a deaf studies degree and who now works as a member of the deaf studies team at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan), I know what it is like on both sides of the desk.

What's it all about then?

It's all about deaf people and teaches things anybody who wants to work with deaf people need to know.

The problem is that not many people know about deaf studies or what it involves. You can't study for a GCSE in deaf studies, and college courses are only just starting to be available. This means that almost everyone who starts deaf studies begins from virtually the same place ­ knowing nothing! This isn't a problem, as the course aims to teach everything students need to know if they want to work with deaf people.

Who can take a deaf studies degree?

Just about anyone, both deaf and hearing. There is certainly no age limit: I was 38 when I began my degree but you can start at 18 or 80! Obviously, you will need to demonstrate your ability to handle the academic work with A levels or equivalent qualifications, but you also need to show your willingness to be open-minded about what you will learn. Many hearing people want to work for deaf people; we teach people how to work with deaf people, a big difference.

We concentrate on deaf people as a cultural group with its own language, not as people who have something missing or who are not "normal". In order to do this, students learn first what it means to be deaf in a hearing world. Learning sign language is compulsory on the course. For those who can already sign when they arrive, we give them the opportunity to improve their skills, right up to interpreter level, either as part of their degree or as post-graduate students.

Other subjects covered on the course include:

  • Changing images of deafness
  • Deafness and social policy
  • Issues in sign language interpreting
  • Deaf history
  • Deaf community and culture
  • Sign linguistics

There is also the opportunity to undertake work placements, both in Britain and abroad, in which students work closely with deaf organisations to further their knowledge and skills.

Where do you end up?

There are many jobs that deaf studies can lead into, although I must stress that having a deaf studies degree is not in itself a qualification for certain types of work. For example, if you want to become a teacher of the deaf or a social worker with deaf people, you would still need further professional qualifications. With or without specific qualifications, you can work in a great number of jobs relating to deafness. Graduates from UCLan are currently working as lecturers in deaf studies courses (me!); as researchers involved in projects with deaf people; as social workers; communication support workers in schools, colleges and universities; sign language interpreters; working in residential homes and for organisations who provide information and support for deaf people; as teachers of the deaf; running support services for deaf students in colleges and schools ­ in fact, in just about any type of work that involves contact with deaf people.

A deaf studies degree gives you a knowledge of deaf people that you can take with you into your working life, and deaf studies degrees from UCLan are highly valued by employers. This is shown by the fact that several of our students have been offered jobs in their final year of study, even before they knew what level of degree they were going to be awarded. Over 90 per cent of deaf studies graduates at UCLan have found work or gone on to further study in the first year after graduating.

How can I find out more?

If you think you might be interested in taking a deaf studies degree but don't know anything about deafness or deaf people, this isn't a problem. Why not contact your local deaf club or one of the national deaf organisations and ask if there is any voluntary work you could be involved in? You can find details in your phone book or from websites such as the Royal National Institute for Deaf People ( www.rnid.org.uk), the British Deaf Association ( www.bda.org.uk) or the National Deaf Children's Society ( www.ndcs.org.uk).

You can get more information about Deaf studies degrees from UCLan ( www.uclan. ac.uk; 01772 201201). Other universities, including Bristol and Wolverhampton, offer courses. Details from UCAS: www.ucas.com.

News
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
Sport
Danny Welbeck's Manchester United future is in doubt
footballStriker in talks over £17m move from Manchester United
Sport
Louis van Gaal, Radamel Falcao, Arturo Vidal, Mats Hummels and Javier Hernandez
footballFalcao, Hernandez, Welbeck and every deal live as it happens
Sport
footballFeaturing Bart Simpson
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Kelly Brook
peopleA spokesperson said the support group was 'extremely disappointed'
News
The five geckos were launched into space to find out about the effects of weightlessness on the creatures’ sex lives
i100
Sport
Andy Murray celebrates a shot while playing Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
TennisWin sets up blockbuster US Open quarter-final against Djokovic
Life and Style
techIf those brochure kitchens look a little too perfect to be true, well, that’s probably because they are
Arts and Entertainment
Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand performs live
music Pro-independence show to take place four days before vote
News
news Video - hailed as 'most original' since Benedict Cumberbatch's
News
i100
Life and Style
The longer David Sedaris had his Fitbit, the further afield his walks took him through the West Sussex countryside
lifeDavid Sedaris: What I learnt from my fitness tracker about the world
Arts and Entertainment
Word master: Self holds up a copy of his novel ‘Umbrella’
boksUnlike 'talented mediocrity' George Orwell, you must approach this writer dictionary in hand
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

Humanities Teacher

£110 - £135 per day + Competitive Rates: Randstad Education Maidstone: Outstan...

Year 3 Teacher

£100 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Hull: Year 3 primary supply teacher ne...

General Cover Teacher - Grimsby

Negotiable: Randstad Education Hull: Qualified Teachers needed for Supply in t...

Nursery Teacher - Grimsby

£90 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Hull: Job opportunity for Nursery Suppl...

Day In a Page

Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

Europe's biggest steampunk convention

Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor