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Multicultural Competence: Respecting the Unity and Diversity of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Communities

March 17, 2019 – Irene Leigh, Ph.D.

“Multicultural Competence: Respecting the Unity and Diversity of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Communities”

This workshop meets Cultural Diversity CE requirement


Workshop Level: All levels

This workshop is for licensed psychologists who would like to better understand issues related to being members of the deaf and hard of hearing communities and the potential impact for those who belong and do not belong.

Program Description:

It is a common misconception that deaf individuals are isolated within their own Deaf community, and that they cling together apart from hearing society, reinforcing that isolation. The workshop will encourage you to explore your own perceptions regarding deaf and hard of hearing individuals, and to recognize that these individuals are diverse. Think about their communication style, language usage, educational level, strengths, and vulnerabilities. Think about their different cultural heritages. Think about what their communities do for them.

Diversity is increasingly a fact of life. To be culturally competent, we have to understand how cultures manifest themselves differentially in features such as attitudes, forms of emotional expression, patterns of relating to others, and ways of thinking. Deaf culture is one culture that begs for our attention. Not only deaf, but also hard of hearing individuals can be members of this Deaf cultural community or the greater deaf and hard of hearing community. We will look at their experiences as part of those communities.

There will be opportunity to learn what it means to be deaf, culturally deaf, hard of hearing, and hearing impaired. We will look at myths about deaf people. In addition to demographic information, we will begin to understand the critical roles played by the medical and socio-cultural models in framing perceptions of deaf and hard of hearing people and influencing how they are treated. We will also consider how deaf and hard of hearing people, who are part of the diversity spectrum, are themselves diverse, and how they acculturate to their multiple identities. The role of community in their lives is critical in enabling them to share their experiences of communication barriers, discrimination, and devaluation and participate in social action.

Also to be discussed is how we can work with individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing and need mental health treatment? What are their psychopathology issues? How can we deal with the interface between hearing and deaf cultural norms? How do we integrate these with other aspects of diversity, including ethnic diversity? How do we deal with the impact when deaf and hard of hearing individuals struggle to relate to hearing societies and with their own mental health issues? How do we recognize the strengths of deaf and hard of hearing individuals?

 Learning Objectives:  As a result of attending this workshop, it is expected that participants will be able to:

  1. Define deaf, hard of hearing, culturally Deaf, and hearing impaired.
  2. Recognize the implications of being identified as deaf or hard of hearing,
  3. Understand the role of the deaf and hard of hearing communities in the lifes of deaf and hard of hearing individuals
  4. Increase awareness of potential issues that deaf and hard of hearing individuals may bring to treatment.

About the Presenter:  Dr, Irene W, Leigh is currently Professor Emerita of Psychology at Gallaudet University in Washington, DC. She was formerly Chair of the Department of Psychology at Gallaudet, where she taught in the doctoral program in clinical psychology. She has extensive presentations and publications in the areas of depression, identity, multiculturalism, parenting, psychotherapy, and cochlear implants. Books include the following: A Lens on Deaf Identities (2009); Psychotherapy with Deaf Clients from Diverse Groups (1999, 2010); Cochlear Implants: Evolving Perspectives (2011); Deaf People and Society (2017), and Deaf Culture (2018). She has also served on various committees and task forces under the auspices of the American Psychological Association, as a reviewer for various journals, and as Associate Editor of the Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education. Her awards include University Distinguished Faculty for 2003, Schaefer Professorship, Fellow of the American Psychological Association (APA), and APA’s Committee on Disability Issues in Psychology’s Distinguished Contributions Award.

Dr. Leigh received her BS degree in Deaf Education from Northwestern University and both her MA in Psychology and PhD in Clinical Psychology from New York University in New York City. She completed her pre-doctoral internship at the Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City and is licensed to practice psychology in the State of Maryland.

The event is finished.


Mar 17 2019


9:00 am - 12:15 pm




Doubletree by Hilton Silver Spring
8727 Colesville Road