Mag. Barbara Hager

Which biographical experiences in the bimodal-bilingual school context in Austria and Germany play a role in teaching sign-language pupils?

Supervision: Gottfried Biewer
Period: March 2017 - February 2021

What are the biographical experiences that deaf teachers from Austria and Germany have acquired? To what extent can these be used in bimodal-bilingual classes taught in sign languages?

Researcher Sabine Fries (2004) found that deaf teachers convey content with particular authenticity. In the school context, deaf teachers are the most important role models and identification figures for signing children (Kramreiter 2011), and it is in class that deaf school students learn how to cope with daily routines in Austrian Sign Language. Article 24, paragraph 4 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (Biewer 2017) contains a call for the employment of teachers who are deaf themselves for teaching deaf children. That paragraph also points out the necessary ÖGS (Austrian Sign Language) competences of teachers. In Austria, we lack scientific findings on necessary experiences of signing teachers for deaf students. In order to fill this gap, I want to focus my research on deaf teachers who are sign language users and on their competences. My work will also include deaf teachers from Germany because cities like Hamburg and Berlin have been offering signed classes taught by deaf teachers for years. Important competences for classes in sign language, which have already been investigated scientifically, include Deaf Didactics (Grote & Zäh, 2016) Storytelling & Creative Signing (Rogers & Young 2011), and cultural holism & Deafhood Pedagogics (Ladd 2010).

So far, there have been no publications biographical experiences on of deaf teachers in signed classes in Austria. The methodological basis of the dissertation’s scientific approach comprises the following qualitative methods following the research style of Constructivist Grounded Theory (Charmaz 2014). This research design, being an object-related theory development, is an inductive strategy that is currently of great interest in deaf research (Kusters, De Meulder & O ́Brien 2017). First, I will conduct narrative interviews with six to ten deaf teachers from Germany and Austria, in which I will focus on their biography in relation to their roles as teachers. For content evaluation and coding, I will use the methods according to Rosenthal (2011). Furthermore I will take parts of my interviews-transcript which are focusing on Deafhood Pedagogics, Deaf Didactics, Storytelling and Creative Signing to discuss and interpret them in independent research groups.   

Subsequently, after the evaluation and coding of all interviews I plan to conduct communicative validation based on the categories of the evaluation. This means that I will invite the teachers for a second conversation. The goal of this research project is to obtain research results of teachers for signing school students.