MSSE: Secondary Deaf Education: Special AAD Issue: Vygotsky

This guide points to resources in deaf education for graduate students in the MSSE program.

Special AAD Issue:Vygotsky

Michael E. Skyer (editor and contributor)

Lev Vygotsky is a world-renowned theorist of education, psychology, and language. One hundred years after his death, his contributions to the science of human development are both expansively influential and hotly contested. His most familiar and popular works include sociocultural learning theory and his Zone of Proximal Development theory. 

However popular and influential, very few current scholars attend to Vygotsky’s extensive research into disability studies and special education, undertaken in the USSR in the 1920s and 30s. This included important areas of niche study such as his research on the role of sign languages in polyglossic deaf pedagogy.

The confluence of Vygotsky’s research on deaf pedagogy and in critical studies in special education is the focus of the new issue of the American Annals of the Deaf, titled, “Vygotskian Perspectives in Deaf Education.” Willicheva and Hall (2023), who conclude the volume describe it this way: “Consequently, this themed publication is now the most comprehensive collection of literature to date exploring the implications of Vygotskian contributions to deaf education.” (p. 163).

The articles include foci about indigenizing deaf pedagogies on the African continent, sociohistorical analyses of Soviet Deaf Cultures and Communist education schemes, and research that aims to expand Vygotsky’s relevance for American educators working with deaf students today. In particular, the authors of this volume work to increase justice,  reduce harms, and increase benefits for deaf students who are at risk of language deprivation and cultural dislocation.

The articles included in the special volume can be accessed here:

In alphabetical order, the contents are: 
Graham, P., Kurz, C., & Batamula, C. (2023). Finding Vygotsky in early childhood deaf education: Sociocultural bodies and conversations. American Annals of the Deaf, 168(1), 80–101.

Istomina, K. (2023). Dialectics of deafness in the Soviet Union: A review of Claire L. Shaw’s Deaf in the USSR. American Annals of the Deaf, 168(1), 177–182.

Musengi, M. (2023). Vygotskian resonances with the African worldview of Ubuntu for decolonial deaf education. American Annals of the Deaf, 168(1), 37–55.

Paul, P. V. (2023). Perhaps this is everything you wanted to know about Vygotsky but was afraid to ask. American Annals of the Deaf, 168(1), 7–11.

Potier, K. R., & Givens, H. (2023). Synthesizing Vygotsky’s sociocultural theory and deaf pedagogy framework toward deaf education reform: Perspectives from teachers of the deaf. American Annals of the Deaf, 168(1), 102–127.

Scott, J., Henner, J., & Skyer, M. E. (2023). Six arguments for Vygotskian pragmatism in deaf education: Multimodal multilingualism as applied harm reduction. American Annals of the Deaf, 168(1), 56–79.

Skyer, M. E. (2023). The deaf biosocial condition: Metaparadigmatic lessons from and beyond Vygotsky’s deaf pedagogy research. American Annals of the Deaf, 168(1), 128–161.

Skyer, M. E. (2023). Vygotskian perspectives in deaf education: An introduction in two movements. American Annals of the Deaf, 168(1), 12–36.

Willicheva, K., & Hall, W. C. (2023). From vicious circles to virtuous cycles: Vygotskian-inspired conclusions for biomedicine and deaf education. American Annals of the Deaf, 168(1), 162–176.

On a poignant level, this Special Issue contains the first posthumous article written by Dr. Jon Henner of the University of North Carolina. Dr. Henner was, like Vygotsky, a fierce champion of disabled and deaf people, including the fundamental rights of deaf persons to acquire a natural sign language. In honor of Henner, AAD has made the following article open access for three months: “Six arguments for Vygotskian pragmatism in deaf education: Multimodal multilingualism as applied harm reduction”. In line with its stance, this article also features an ASL video abstract signed in ASL by all three authors. 

Overall, the articles included in the new AAD volume are wide-ranging in theme, context, and perspective but center on a radical optimism that is characteristic of Vygotsky’s prosocial, melioristic contributions to theory and application in education. Of Vygotsky’s radical progressivism in the face of rising totalitarianism and fascism, Michael E. Skyer (editor and contributor) writes:

“In dystopian times, being an optimist is a revolutionary act.” (Skyer, 2023, p. 22). 

The authors, editors, and publisher of this special volume invite you to join us in solidarity as we explore our radically optimistic stances about the future of deaf education.

Edit this Guide

Log into Dashboard

Use of RIT resources is reserved for current RIT students, faculty and staff for academic and teaching purposes only.
Please contact your librarian with any questions.

Facebook icon  Twitter icon  Instagram icon  YouTube icon