Statutes Speak Louder Than Words: An In-depth Analysis of Deaf Education Legislation in the United States.
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From the inclusion of American Sign Language (ASL) interpreters on Chance the Rapper's Be Encouraged tour to the Academy Award win for the short film "The Silent Child" to Apple Inc.'s inclusion of a new ASL signing emoji, 2018 has been a blockbuster year for the Deaf community. Often forgotten by the hearing world around them, the Deaf minority in the United States has remained strong and grown a culturally distinct identity for the last century. However, like many American minorities, they face many systemic inequalities in their daily lives as showcased in the current climate of Deaf education. This thesis looks at the history of Deaf education in America and highlights the federal legislation that provided Deaf individuals with a foundation for equal education and the state legislation that makes it a reality. Focusing on the Americans with Disabilities Act and Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, I address one of the main paradoxes facing the Deaf community: allowing themselves to be labeled a "disability group" to receive much-needed services, while rebelling against the idea that deafness is in fact a disability. Similarly, I take a comprehensive look at the legislation in California and Kansas, serving to apportion more rights to Deaf individuals across their states and overcome the remediable ignorance many people have toward the Deaf community. An amalgamation of history, sociology and policy, this is the first attempt to review how legislation in America targets the Deaf community and helps to address some of the institutional inequalities the hearing world is often unaware of.