Kathleen L. Brockway, a native ASL speaker, is a nationally-known Deaf-centered advocate and historian. She is currently a graduate student in Cultural Sustainability at Goucher College (Towson, Maryland) and is the author of two books: Baltimore’s Deaf Heritage (2014) and Detroit’s Deaf Heritage (2016). She previously had served as a Deaf History Researcher for the ASL Rose Company for over a year (2017-2018), and has given several presentations around the country. In her off time, she enjoys sharing Deaf History facts through social media such as Instagram and her FaceBook page “Promoting the American Deaf History & Culture.”
She enjoys sharing deaf history facts.
You are a writer of two books, can you tell us what those books are and why you decided to write those books?
“Baltimore’s Deaf Heritage” – When I saw several Arcadia Publishing books in the tourism section at a bookstore, I saw none mentioned certain buildings or locations like Maryland School for the Deaf and some notable deaf individuals who impact the Maryland community- that was when I decided to submit a proposal.
“Detroit’s Deaf Heritage”- I had collaborated with the Detroit Association of the Deaf in honor 100th anniversary of their deaf social organization. This was a rich experience traveling to 4 different towns to interview individuals and visit the sites to look over the archives. Fifth town was too far in Upper Michigan, however, I learned about the area and families there through some other individuals. The book cover shows the Upper Michigan’s deaf owned shoe repair shop!
Do you have any new project you are currently working on?
Yes, I am focusing with a project mainly on the individuals and places surrounding the deaf education in early days between the Commonwealth of Virginia and becoming official state of Virginia period. That includes four deaf educational programs occurred before permanent deaf and blind school was established in Staunton, VA.
Why are you so fascinated with deaf history?
Saw the fascination of how we missed a lot facts on American deaf history. I became engrossed on the history of deaf education and the individuals we overlooked who are either hidden figures or unsung heroes. I felt that was important to share on a constant basis to carry the legacy of deaf history and culture.
Oppression is the most pressing issue in our education system.
As an educator, what do you see as the most pressing issue in our education system?
Oppression is the first thing I see in the system. Deaf individuals are great role models to deaf students. Other than that, I hope deaf museums one day collaborate fully with the deaf education and involve them in learning experiences using the deaf museum for art, social studies, language, or such in any general that applies to every study. That allows students to decide what they want to be when they grow up like ASL storytelling, writer, researcher, artist, and more.
How would you describe your work style?
Old fashioned way! I go to sites, stop by anywhere that I can find information on, and do writings on my favorite milestone journals. Too many archives are not online so best way is to visit and research.
Tell me about your proudest achievement.
A few to name! Got an award in 2016 as inductee in Susan M. Daniels National Disability Mentoring Hall of Fame joining notable deaf figures like I.King Jordan, Claudia Gordon, and a few more deaf figures. I also am proud to say I am a graduate student at Goucher College in Towson, Maryland. My major is Cultural Sustainability in focus of deaf studies and deaf cultural program development. Lastly, my two books are my most prized possession of my success and motivation to continue my authentic research skills.
Was there a person in your career?
There is no one person, but many to name of! However, Jack R. Gannon, a deaf author of Deaf Heritage book has been my inspiration on the deaf history and culture facts!
What’s the last book you read?
Not a book, sort of but diaries written by Colonel William Bolling’s! If you insist on a book, then I would say The Signs of Languages ReVisited by Harlan Lane and Karen Emmorey.
What would you do if you won the lottery?
I would definitely invest all on my self-published writing on many books! Traveling across America to do research projects on deaf history facts will be my joy! Not only that, I would travel across the United Kingdom to do research in connection with the history of American deaf education.
She would use intelligent mind and thinking skills as her superhero power.
If you could choose one superhero power, what would it be and why?
Agent 13, I like the challenge in battles using intelligent mind and thinking skills.
You have the choice to live with a gorilla who knows sign language or a dog who sings lullabies, which do you choose?
I would choose to live with a gorilla and talk in sign language.
If you could be any character in fiction, whom would you be?
Oh boy, a hard question! Laura Ingalls!
The ten questions Lipton asks are:
What is your favorite word? Wow! Too many to name but I would say ‘history!’
What is your least favorite word? ‘Deaf and dumb’ phrase
What turns you on? Finding evidence in my research work!
What turns you off? Leaving deaf individuals out of the family trees or leave the death year blank and do not know where they are buried at!
What sound or noise do you love? Ka-boom!
What sound or noise do you hate? (Screaming!)
What is your favorite curse word? WTF.
What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? Professor in Deaf Studies department.
What profession would you not like to do? Scientist
If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates? ‘Welcome aboard!’
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