UW Linguistics at DeafNation Expo

Submitted by Joyce Parvi on
Linguistics ASL faculty in front of their booth. The NPP lab is just to the right.

DeafNation Expo, one of the biggest Deaf expositions in the United States, took place on November 5, 2022, at Seattle Center Exhibition Hall, including two UW Linguistics booths.  The ASL program, directed by Lance Forshay, and the Neuroplasticity and Language Lab, directed by Qi Cheng, both had a strong presence.  A number of students from UW’s ASL classes, from beginning to advanced, also volunteered at DeafNation Expo.  The ASL program booth was staffed by faculty members Lance Forshay, Kristi Winter, Dan Mathis, along with visiting faculty member Chang Ho Hwang and summer faculty member Raymond Bateh.  The ASL faculty answered many questions from the Deaf community about ASL at UW and recruited students for second year summer intensive ASL 234.  Parents and family members of deaf children dropped by the ASL faculty booth asking about UW’s ASL classes and other resources for learning and expanding their ASL skills. Mathis notes: “This is a very critical issue for all of us as between 90-95% of deaf children are born to hearing parents and often they are raised and educated in a primary environment where ASL and Deaf culture aren’t promoted or utilized. So we are not only Deaf educators, we are Deaf community advocates who provide resources to the university and surrounding communities for language learning, cultural awareness and navigating cross-cultural borders.” 

Cheng adds:  “We had a blast at the event.  A lot of deaf people stopped by our booth and learned about our research, and many signed up to participate in future studies. We also connected with people from the local deaf associations and government units, such as the Washington State Association of the Deaf (WSAD), Puget Sound Association of the Deaf (PSAD), and Office of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (ODHH).” A variety of current and former undergraduate and graduate RAs helped Cheng staff the NPP booth. Cheng notes: “Our Deaf research assistant, Tina Leonard, flew all the way from Riverside to help recruit participants at the event. Two current LING 499 students, Amar and Gillian, and a former 499 student who is now a research assistant in the lab, Clare, also helped at the booth throughout the day. Graduate student Cassie was also at our booth recruiting potential participants for her survey study on deaf-related language technologies.”

There are about six DeafNation Expos per year which take place in various cities around the U.S.  See you next year!