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Tom Humphries

Professor Emeritus

A focus of my work has been on how “taking culture” among Deaf people helps us understand the circulation of culture in communities and especially the rapid acceleration of consciousness change. Culture has been “on its way somewhere” among Deaf people for 30 years. Tracing the movement of the discourse of culture in places like the Deaf media, in everyday talk, and in other kinds of texts allows us to see how Deaf people imagine their community and how to understand what is being communicated when they engage in such discourse. I am also focused on how a global discourse of culture among Deaf people has contributed to the reorganization of local educational practice for deaf children. I am fascinated with how "culture" has been so attractive to Deaf people as a means of self-representation, continuing the work Carol Padden and I began in Deaf in America: Voices from a Culture (1988) and Inside Deaf Culture (2005). In my teaching, I use my work on the language and culture of Deaf people to illustrate problems of silencing and voice, self-expression, self-representation, and dominant/non-dominant group relations.

Other work includes a paper on teacher talk among deaf and hearing teachers in different types of school settings for deaf children (Humphries & MacDougall 1999/2000). The significance of this work is that it illuminates our understanding of how ideology shapes teaching practice (specifically, the way teachers' language is structured and things are explained during instruction). In showing how deaf teachers make connections between ASL and English during instruction, we are able to see differences between how deaf teachers and hearing teachers vary in the frequency with which they use some obvious candidates for relating ASL and English such as fingerspelling and "chaining" (a process of combining different media in rapid sequence). We attribute these differences to differing ideologies of the school setting and also to the effect of indigenous practices from the different communities, deaf and hearing. The paper gives us insights into how English literacy is an achievable goal through the medium of a signed language, ASL, a connect that has historically been considered unlikely by many in deaf education. This research and other research linking ASL and English form the basis for an effort to reorganize teacher preparation in deaf

Having a joint appointment to the Education Studies Department at UCSD and serving as Vice Chair, I have spent the past 15 or more years developing a degree program which trains teachers to work with deaf children using an entirely new curriculum construct: the application of bilingual, multimodal teaching practice to classrooms of deaf children. The work is described in a recent paper on “Schooling in ASL” (2012).  For the past three years, I have collaborated with several colleagues across several universities and several disciplines to publish papers that contribute to a national discourse about deaf children’s development, particularly the importance of the role of signed language in the critical period for language and cognitive development.

Ph.D. in Cross Cultural Communication and Language Learning, Union Graduate School (1977)
  • Humphries, T., P. Kuschalnagar, G. Mathur, D.J. Napoli, C. Padden, R. Pollard, C. Rathmann, & S. Smith.  What Medical education can do to ensure robust language development in deaf children.  Medical Science Educator. (2014).  DOI:  10.1007/s40670-014-0073-7.
  • Humphries, T., P. Kushalnagar,  Mathur, G, Napoli, D. J., Padden, C., and Rathmann, C. (2014). Ensuring language acquisition for deaf children: What linguists can do. Language 90(2), e31-e52. Linguistic Society of America. Retrieved June 24, 2014, from Project MUSE database.
  • Humphries, T., R. Kushalnagar, G. Mathur, D. J. Napoli, C. Padden, C. Rathmann & S. Smith.  “The right to language”, The Journal of Law, Medicine, and Ethics.  41:4 Winter 2013.
  • Humphries, T. “Schooling in American Sign Language: A paradigm shift from a deficit model to a bilingual model in deaf education”.  Berkeley Review of Education.  4:1 Spring 2013.
  • Humphries, T., P. Kushalnagar, G. Mathur, D.J. Napoli, C. Rahtmann & S. Smith. “Bilingualism: A pearl to overcome certain perils of cochlear implants”, Journal of Medical Speech-Language Pathology.  12:2.  2013.
  • Humphries, T., P. Kushalnagar, G. Mathur, D. J. Napoli, C. Padden, C. Rathman, & S. Smith.  “Language acquisition for deaf children:  reducing the harms of zero tolerance to the use of alternative approaches”.  Harm Reduction Journal, 9:16. 2012.
  • Humphries, T., P. Kushalnagar, G. Mathur, D. J. Napoli, C. Padden, C. Rathman, & S. Smith.  “Cochlear implants and the right to language:  ethical considerations, the ideal situation, and practical measures toward reaching the ideal”. Cochlear Implant Research Updates, Cila Umat and Rinze Tange, Eds.,  InTech Publishers.  2012.
  • Humphries, T. & J. Humphries. “Deaf in the time of the cochlea”, Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education, 16:2 2011.
  • Humphries, T. “Scientific explanation and other performance acts in the re-organization of DEAF” in Signs and Voices, Donna Jo Napoli, ed.. Gallaudet University Press. 2008..
  • Humphries, T. and B. Allen. “Re-organizing teacher preparation in Deaf Education” in Sign Language Studies. 8:2. 2008.
  • Humphries, T. “Talking culture and culture talking” in Open Your Eyes,. Dirksen Bauman, ed., University of Minnesota Press, 2008.
  • Padden, C. and T. Humphries, Inside Deaf Culture. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. 2005
  • Humphries, T. “The modern Deaf self: Indigenous practices and educational imperatives” in Literacy and Deaf People: Cultural and Contextual Perspectives. B. Brueggemann, ed.. Gallaudet University Press. 2004.
  • Humphries, T. and MacDougall, F. "'Chaining' and other links: making connections between American Sign Language and English in two types of school settings" in Visual Anthropology Review, 15:2, Fall/Winter 1999/2000.
  • Humphries, T. "On deaf-mutes, the strange, and the modern Deaf self" in Culturally Affirming Psychotherapy with Deaf Persons. N. Glickman and M. Harvey, eds., Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1996.
  • Padden, C. and T. Humphries. Deaf in America: Voices from a Culture. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, l988.