On “diversity” and “inclusion”: Exploring
paradigms for achieving Sign Language
Peoples’ rights

by Annelies Kusters, Maartje De Meulder,
Michele Friedner, Steve Emery

Working Papers WP 15-02
March 2015
ISSN 2192-2357 (MMG Working Papers Print)

Full text: pdf

The use of the concepts “diversity” and “inclusion” are analyzed with regard to deaf people, whom we call Sign Language Peoples (SLPs), specifically in policy discourses (as used by the World Federation of the Deaf and in the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities) and academic discourses (particularly the concept of Deaf Gain). Discussing such discourses, we evaluate the promises and perils of “diversity” and “inclusion” in policy positions and scholarly analysis. We argue that in order for these concepts to be useful for SLPs in the achievement of rights, we need to foreground a specific understanding of inclusion as societal inclusion, and diversity as needing a group rights-based foundation. As such, we explore different paradigms for understanding how SLPs are part of diversity and how they can be included. As such, we contribute to scholarship and debate on inclusion and diversity beyond the particular case of SLPs.

Keywords: CRPD, WFD, Citizenship, Group rights, Human rights, Human diversity, Deaf Gain, Disability.        

Annelies Kusters works as a postdoctoral researcher at the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity in Göttingen. She has Master’s degrees in Anthropology (University of Leuven) and Deaf Studies (University of Bristol), and a PhD in Deaf Studies (University of Bristol). She has research experience in Ghana, India and Surinam. She is particularly interested in deaf space and deaf geographies, deaf ontologies and epistemologies, mobilities, transnationalism, language practices and language ideologies.
Contact information: annelieskusters(at)gmail.com

Maartje De Meulder obtained Master’s degrees in Disability Studies (University
of Ghent) and Deaf Studies (University of Bristol). She is currently affiliated to the University of Jyväskylä (Finland) as a PhD researcher. Her research explores Sign Language Peoples’ aspirations for sign language recognition legislation. Previous to her research, she has done advocacy for the Flemish Deaf Association and she is still involved in deaf political activism in different contexts.
Contact information: maartje.demeulder(at)verbeeld.be

Michele Friedner is an assistant professor of health and rehabilitation sciences in the School of Health Technology and Management at Stony Brook University, USA. She is a medical anthropologist and her research focuses on the experiences of deaf and disabled Indians in urban India as they attempt to create inhabitable presents and futures.
Contact information: michele.friedner(at)stonybrook.edu

Steve Emery obtained his PhD on Citizenship and the Deaf Community at the University of Central Lancashire, his BA (hons) in Cultural Studies at Sheffield Hallam University and obtained an Advanced Diploma in Counselling at Manchester University. His main research interests are the citizenship and group rights of deaf people and the impact of genetic interventions in society. Steve has been involved in political activism for many years in both deaf and hearing communities.
Contact information: tigerbee.steve(at)gmail.com