Modern Languages and Cultural Studies

Rouzbeh Ghahreman

Biography

I am Deaf from birth. I grew up in an educated family; my father was a well-known poet and researcher in Persian literature and my mother is a retired well-known teacher of the deaf for 30 years. I completed my master’s degree in history in my homeland. I enjoyed the opportunity to be a member of the research group of Farsi and Persian Sign Language (PSL) at University of Social Welfare and Rehabilitation Sciences (USWRS); the research group successfully published the dictionary of Farsi words and signs (volume three) in 1999. I authored several articles include sign language studies for the first Encyclopedia of the Deaf in Iran after research, analyses and evaluation for several years – all three encyclopedia volumes (1420 pages) published in 2005.  I have worked extensively as an educator with elementary and secondary Deaf students and their families in Toronto, Ottawa, and Edmonton since 2004. I attended University of Alberta in 2009 and I completed my master’s degree in special education with a focus on Deaf education and completed all of requires courses in Special Education - PhD level. From 2009 through to 2015 I gained university teaching experience as the Sessional Instructor for teaching the course of Introduction to Deaf Studies and Deaf Education, a senior level undergraduate course in the Faculty of Education. This course is focused on providing pre-service teachers with an understanding of the educational needs of Deaf and Hard of Hearing students. I was awarded the Graduate Teaching Award from the Graduate Students Association (GSA), University of Alberta in February 2012. Additionally, I have taught as a full-time LINC ASL instructor to teach ASL and English as second language to Deaf newcomers to Canada at NorQuest College in Edmonton for two years. These experiences have provided an excellent opportunity for me to act as a Deaf role model as I teach hearing students about a variety of topics, foremost of which are language and culture.

What is your favorite thing about teaching?

My favorite thing about teaching is the motivation in my students who learn Deaf culture and a visual language, American Sign Language (ASL).

What is the last book you read and loved?

“Deaf Gain: Raising the stakes for human diversity” (2014) by Dirksen, Bahan, and Murray. One of the reasons I loved it is that the book is written mainly from the perspective of Deaf community with a focus on advantages of deafness! Totally, this book shows a fact that the potential benefits of deafness are more readily and obviously explained.

If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be?

There are so many places in the world that I have not visited. I love to travel to the lands of Carthage again, I visited there two times because I love to learn Tunisian Sign Language and to explore the common roots of history, culture, language, and foods between Tunisia and Persia/Iran.

What three words best describe your experience as a teacher?

Confidence, pride, and excitement.

What do you wish people knew about Deaf community and ASL?

The members of Deaf community do not consider themselves disabled and feel that they don’t need to be “fixed” by doctors through medical interventions such as cochlear implants. Instead, they see themselves as a part of a unique linguistic group with a distinct culture.
The sign language is not universal. There are currently more than 300 sign languages. Just like spoken languages, sign languages developed out of people in different countries interacting with each other and inventing their particular language even British Sign Language (BSL) and American Sign Language (ASL) are different.
There are some of the basic concepts behind ASL that are interesting. For example: hearing students have to learn five parameters of ASL: handshape, location, movement, palm, and facial expression. Any change in one of these five parameters can change the meaning of what a signer said.