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Welcome from the Lead Faculty- Dr. Lissa Ramirez-Stapleton

Thank you for taking the time to explore The Black Deaf Life in California Digital Exhibit. The exhibit aims to centralize, expand, and provide greater access to Black Deaf educational material. This online exhibit is about holding the memories, contributions, and lives of Black Deaf people, their achievements, organizations, and history within California and CSUN. Often Black Deaf history, culture, and life materials are spread throughout the country and difficult to locate. This exhibit serves both our current and future students and honors the greater Black Deaf community and CSUN alumni. We hope students, educators, community members, and lifelong learners find the exhibit informative, personal, and eye-opening. We hope this collection ignites the curiosity of CSUN students, supplements K-12 Deaf education curriculums, and expands the general community’s knowledge. This exhibit is CSUN’s first step to preserving Black Deaf life, knowledge, and experiences in an open and accessible way within California.

The Black Deaf Life in California Digital Exhibit

In collaboration with the Deaf Studies department, the CSUN Library, and the Southern California Black Deaf Advocates (SoCalBDA), we created a searchable database and virtual exhibit that includes 14 Oral (American Sign Language) stories of Black Deaf Californians and a selection of images highlighting their life experiences. The exhibition has five categories: Black Deaf organizations, Activism, Deaf Education, Family, and CSUN alumni. The CSUN Diversity & Equity Innovation Grant funded the program, and we started in spring 2021. We worked directly with SoCalBDA to recruit participants. A self-selected group of students from the spring 2021 DEAF 412: Black Deaf Communities course were trained in Oral History methodology and methods, assisted in creating interview questions, conducted one community interview, and assisted with the translation of the interview from American Sign Language to English captions. Once the interviews were captioned, each one was reviewed by the community member, an interpreter, and two other editors to confirm the cultural translation accuracy and edit captions. In the final stages, voiceovers were recorded for each interview by students from the theater, music, and Cinema and Television Arts departments. The historical content was cowritten by the student interviewers and Dr. Lissa Ramirez-Stapleton. The library faculty, Stephen Kutay, Elizabeth Altman, and Nicole Shibata, supported the project’s technology, accessibility, and metadata aspects. This project was supported by a team of over 50 students, faculty, staff, interpreters, and community members.