Department of Conflict Resolution Studies Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Conflict Analysis & Resolution


College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences – Department of Conflict Resolution Studies

First Advisor

Dustin Berna

Second Advisor

Neil Katz

Third Advisor

Jason Campbell


This research employed a case study approach to understand emerging themes that may be garnered through documenting the lived experiences of online Deaf activists who have used the video feature available through social media outlets, such as YouTube, as a way to overcome the language barrier typically present for linguistic minorities who are leading social movements within an English-speaking, hearing majority. The focus of this study was the members of the Deaf Community that have taken to an online podium in their fight for autonomy and equality. They champion their Deaf identity, their right to agency and autonomy in areas of language, access, education and employment, in what has exploded into the largest social movement in their cultural history. Therefore, two questions were at the center of this research: 1. "How has experiencing audism affected the lives of Deaf people?", and 2. "How has the use of social media as a platform to fight against audism through natural linguistic expression in American Sign Language impacted that experience?". The growth of individual Deaf identity has created a community action network for the Deaf Community, and access to the technology of videophones and instant access to wireless Internet has brought with it the use of video blogs, or vlogs, within the Deaf Community at explosive rates. The movement from disability to a place of diversity and cultural, ethnic and linguistic minority personhood for the Deaf is a path that is still being forged. Presented in this study is a glimpse into this journey, through a case study of their lived experience.