The Canadian experience of Deaf academics
May 28, 2019
Dr. Cathy Chovaz C. Psych., Chair-elect of Psychology, presented at the International Deaf Academics & Researchers Conference (DAC), held May 11-13 in Reykjavik, Iceland.
She joined Dr. Linda Campbell of St. Mary’s University and Dr. Kristin Snoddon of Carleton University in presenting in American Sign Language (ASL) on Deaf academics across disciplines and generations: Canadian experiences. “We are all Deaf, all women, all represent different disciplines, different universities but share a commonality that we are Deaf in a hearing academic world,” says Dr. Chovaz.
The presentation included descriptions by Dr. Chovaz, Dr. Campbell and Dr. Snodden as Canadian Deaf academics including the response of their institutions, both positive and negative, to their deafness. The presentation highlighted different themes such as the importance of well-educated, trained and dedicated interpreters (such as King’s interpreter Angela Core), an inclusive environment, the necessity for advocating for their rights, the difficulties working in isolation from the hearing world, the challenges of discrimination and the responses to, and effects of their deafness upon, students. The presentation also had input from Dr. Kathryn Woodcock of Ryerson University. Dr. Chovaz is one of five Deaf academics in Canada.
Dr. Chovaz says she learned a lot, especially that her Canadian experience is not replicated everywhere. “I am aware and grateful for the inclusive environment here at King’s, the respect many colleagues show and the efforts to understand my perspective as a Deaf professor,” she says.
Dr. Chovaz says the presentation received an excellent response. “As the first Deaf clinical psychologist in Canada, I had a number of Deaf academics from various countries follow up with their own experiences as well as requests for advice,” she says. “The conference was stimulating, productive and a wonderful experience. The breadth and depth of presentations were excellent.”
At King’s, Dr. Chovaz teaches courses on child and adult clinical psychology. Her research focuses on Deaf children and autism spectrum disorder, the mental health functioning of Deaf and hearing school children, and ASL interpreters and mental health settings. She is also the director of the Centre for Deaf Educational Advancement Forum at King’s (CDEAF) that works to improve mental health services for Deaf Canadians and support the professionals who work in the field.