**Moved from room 12 to Grand Ballroom D** Via the medium of interactive theater, experience a culturally deaf engineering education space conducted primarily in American Sign Language (ASL). What might engineering look like if deafness and signing were the norm - i.e., what different insights or approaches might deaf engineers have taken in developing it as a field? What would it be like if hearing/speech was an exception to be “accommodated” in engineering classrooms built for visual communication?
Participants will experience firsthand how cultural assumptions, communication mediation, and other factors impact the conference for them. The audience will then have the opportunity to reflect on and discuss that experience together. The audience will explore our own habits and assumptions around what engineering education is, who is able to participate, and in what ways participation is enabled, extending the conversation beyond deafness/disability to broader issues of representation and engineering culture.
Feedback from attendee evaluations of a similar session at FIE 2018 shared with permission:
"This is one of the best sessions I've ever been to, out of maybe 50 conferences over 25 years... I'd do this again - every few years."
"I have attended FIE for seven years and have won the Helen Plants Award [for best special session]. This is - unequivocally - the best FIE session that I have attended."
"The presenters were authentic and transparent, willing to share and synthesize their experiences into lessons."
"A completely different experience to anything I've seen before. Placed in a world where I am a hearing minority, then a chance to have an honest conversation about that experience... relevant for all diversity, not just deaf."
"This was personal and the whole room cared. Which I think is really attractive in this space where academics often don't interact about deeply and humanly caring about what we talk about... this format worked so well."
"Interactive, fun, thought provoking. Totally new topic and innovative. Wow! One of the best conference sessions I've ever attended."
Mel Chua is an electrical/computer engineer and engineering education researcher in the STELAR lab at Georgia Tech. She is also an auditory low-pass filter and multimodal polyglot. In other words, she’s Deaf and uses ASL. Mel also spends a lot of time explaining that she does not study hearing aids. She does not develop sign language gloves. She does not do research on how to support Deaf engineering students. She thinks all these things are important and is glad other people are doing that work. This is not the work Mel does.
Mel wholeheartedly agrees that ASL is a beautiful language, and that it’s important to discuss accessibility… and would like to spend more time geeking out with people about teaching electrical/computer engineering or doing research on open source communities, faculty development, and engineering education ontologies instead. Mel has been at Olin College and Purdue University’s PhD program in Engineering Education as a student as well as Olin College and Rochester Institute of Technology as a researcher. She is working to develop the practice of prototyping alternate-universe engineering curricular cultures and occasionally draws engineering education research comics.
Ian Smith works as a software engineer in San Francisco. He is Deaf and a wheelchair user. Ian studied Computer Science at MIT and Linguistics at Gallaudet University, and recently served as the content expert in Computer Science for the ASLCore project, an initiative to develop academic vocabulary in ASL for college-level subjects and beyond. Ian is the engineer behind elevatoralerts.com, a project using public transit APIs to notify disabled riders of real-time station accessibility. He also co-founded Project Alloy, a nonprofit that sponsors conference attendance for people who are early in their careers and from groups historically underrepresented in technology.