Masters Theses

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Teacher Education

Major Professor

Kimberly A. Wolbers

Committee Members

Jeffery E. Davis, Delores E. Smith


This study examined whether experiences in the family and the education systems could influence Deaf ethnic identity development. Data were collected via administration of the Deaf Acculturation Scale (DAS). Participants’ responses were assessed as outlined by the developers of the DAS (Maxwell-McCaw & Zea, 2011). Results suggested that parents’ attitude towards their child’s deafness may affect the deaf individual’s identity development. Semi-structured interviews were also conducted with four deaf ethnic minority participants: One Venezuelan American and three African American. Two hearing parents (both mothers) also participated in the interview: one Venezuelan American and one African American. Thematic analysis was used to code and identify patterns among the participants’ responses. Some themes discussed were: the role of spirituality and how it shaped deaf ethnic minority parents’ attitudes toward their child’s deafness; the impact of educational experiences and Deaf identity development, and what factors determined whether an individual identified with their ethnicity or Deafness first. The study suggests that familial/parental attitude toward deafness and experiences in the education system strongly influence Deaf identity development. Limitations and suggestions to further research are also discussed.

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