On December 31, 2015, we were invited by Heidi Givens to join in the #DeafEd discussion on issues that pertains to deaf education on how specific concepts of “allyship” and other issues or concerns might come up from this discussion. I do have to admit that I almost completely forgot that this discussion was taking place tonight, but for some odd reason, I decided to go on Twitter and see what’s going on. Twitter, please note, I really wish you had a upcoming events section to remind me of upcoming Twitter discussion, but I will side on taking fault for being lazy and not reminding myself using Google Reminder.


Nevertheless, the discussion via Twitter has been pretty significant. Heidi Givens started the discussion with seven questions as you can see below:

For those of you who are wondering this chat focuses on ALL Deaf students. #DDBDDHH = Deaf, DeafBlind, Deaf w/ Disabilities, and Hard of Hearing. And the format of the discussion is that Heidi would tweet one question at a time with Q1 and people on Twitter would respond to their answers with A1 and so forth. She started this #DeafEd with two other people to get the discussion going starting with Dave J Coyne and Joseph Hill. Dave J Coyne, who I knew nothing of the man tonight and with some help from Google, is an assistant professor in ASL Interpreting Studies at University of Louisville. His research focuses on social justice leadership and allyship behaviors in the interpreting field. Joseph Hill, is also someone I knew nothing about until today and yes, I cheated again, I use Google to find out about his expertise. Okay, I lied. I actually used his Twitter profile, he is a Professor who is Black ASL researcher, serious ASL user, and surprisingly an Aspiring Chef! And lastly, you have to know about Heidi Givens. Heidi is a Deaf/Hard of Hearing Teacher from Kentucky and she has been running #DeafEd chats forever. Well, I lied again, according to her blog, Heidi’s Take on Deaf Education, she started in December 4, 2012.

The chat began with a visiting professor and students at the Rochester Institute of Technology. I stumbled upon the chat on Twitter in 2014, and I knew I needed to learn more. The students had come up with questions and made videos to sign them. The level of professionalism and participation was so impressive, but since it was a culminating project for the college students, there wasn’t a plan to continue the chat. I asked the professor, TL (@talilalewis), if I could take over. We held the next #DeafEd chat in mid-April of this year, and it was a hit. Prior to the start of this chat, there really wasn’t a national platform for conversa­tions about deaf education. Our intent is to vary the topics each month and have prominent experts in the field serve as hosts. My hope is to encourage any teacher who is or could be working with deaf or hard of hearing students to participate. The title of the chat on October 1 was, “The Intersection of Education and Language of Deaf Students of Color,” and the November 5 chat, hosted by TL and students, will be about Deaf identity.

Man, she has a impressive resume too, twenty one years in education! Kudos to you!

Now, there’s no way this post will be able to write and quote everyone responses to every single question. Ain’t gonna happen people. If you want to know everyone responses, feel free to click on #DeafEd and scroll using that wonderful thumb, finger, elbow or whatever you use to read all of that information. However, for this post, we’re gonna post two or three responses/answers that we think are the best.

Q1: Based on your knowledge or experience, what is your definition of #allyship?

Q2: “Allies” often unintentionally center themselves in advocacy. What does centering #DDBDDHH people look like and how can we do better?



Q3: What are some examples of #allyship that have happened in your educational setting?

Q4: In the #DeafEd context, what action have you observed that appeared to be #allyship actions, but ended up not being allyship after all?



Q5: What barriers do educational professionals face related to #advocacy with and for #DDBDDHH students?

Q6: What #SocialJustice resource & practices do you find to be most valuable in your professional practice?


Q7: What is one thing you learned from tonight’s allyship chat that you will apply moving forward?


How #DeafEd is taking steps to improve education experiences for all?

Simple. By talking about it. And with Heidi using the power of social media to find other people that want to talk about how to improve education experience for all deaf/hard of hearing children. People want to know that there are other people that are struggling to figure out better ways to provide access to better education for those who are deaf/hard of hearing. With the concept of allyship and understanding how it work and how it affects others in the workplace, it is the concept to seek an active way of practicing and re-evaluating own selves working with a marginalize group of people. Allyship is basically a idea…a work in progress on challenging oppression and building trust and Heidi and others want to try to apply this concept in the workplace when working with Deaf/Hard of Hearing students. While it is true that deaf schools are closing all over the nation at a phenomenal rate, it still doesn’t mean that we can still improve our education experiences for our students who are Deaf/Hard of Hearing in mainstream public schools.

With that, I’ll leave you with a quote from Joseph Hill the captures the struggle and ongoing struggle with improving our experiences for all:



(Visited 37 times, 1 visits today)

Thomsen Young

Founder of SG