The Mind Hears Blog: A Promising Practice in Building Community and Awareness
Deaf and hard-of-hearing academics face a lot of challenges in their work as well as challenges in advancement through academia. Over 15% of adults have significant hearing loss (National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, 2021). However, due, at least in part, to ableism and lack of support, only 4% of faculty members report having a disability. These faculty members often report feeling isolated and like they are constantly reinventing the wheel; they often lack a community to help problem solve the removal of barriers in the workplace (Durban, 2021).
Ana Caicedo and Michele Cooke, two deaf/hard-of-hearing (HoH) tenured scientists at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, launched The Mind Hears in September 2018, as a means to create a community to learn from various deaf and hard of hearing academics, network, and share experiences and solutions to challenges they have encountered. The blog provides space for individuals to share frustrations and solutions as well discuss related topics. It also provides space for sharing writings and art from other deaf and hard-of-hearing authors and artists, as well as profiles of deaf and hard-of-hearing academics.
Their blog includes the following mission statement:
"Our experiences may differ, but as deaf/HoH academics, we have all continuously faced the challenges of succeeding professionally in environments designed for and by people without hearing loss. We have likely had markedly different access to resources and capacity for self-advocacy depending on our backgrounds and our current institutional organizations. Because hearing loss is often an invisible disability, we have seldom recognized each other and have consequently missed opportunities to learn effective strategies and solutions from each other. Through this blog we hope to reach deaf and hard-of-hearing academics all around the world, in order both to reduce isolation and build a community toolbox of resources and ideas. Hearing loss is variable and can affect us in many and different ways—but through this shared blog experience, we hope to provide something of value to all of those who visit and contribute to our discussions.”
Society often sees disability as a deficit—however, disabilities can result in unique strengths and skills. This blog showcases the work and accomplishments of deaf and hard-of-hearing people and creates a community of learners and supports networking. The Mind Hears is a promising practice in building community among deaf and hard-of-hearing academics and increasing awareness of the issues that they face in the academic environment.
Durban, E. (2021). Anthropology and ableism, American Anthropologist, 124(4), pp. 3-4.
National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, (2021). Quick statistics about hearing.