Kathryn Meadows-Orlans (1963)

Research Professor Emerita, Gallaudet University, Washington, DC.

After four whirlwind years as a Berkeley graduate student, I took a soft-money position at Langley Porter/UC San Francisco conducting further research on my dissertation topic: social and psychological effects of deafness on children and families. The result was Sound and Sign: Childhood Deafness and Mental Health (1972) co-authored with psychiatrist Hilde Schlesinger. Together with articles from my dissertation, this helped change the education of deaf children. Formerly, all schools barred sign language for those younger than 13. Today, sign language combined with speech is standard practice from preschool onward.

By 1976 soft money was scarce, college tuition for two children expensive, and divorce had changed my financial outlook. I moved to a hard money research post at Gallaudet, the world's only liberal arts college for deaf students. There I set up a research program, wrote Deafness and Child Development (1980), and worked happily until retiring in 1998, the gratified recipient of a festschrift.

Graduate school gave me some life-long friends: many contributed to Gender and the Academic Experience, Berkeley Women Sociologists (1994), edited with Ruth Wallace. It also gave me a measure of confidence and the research skills to produce a satisfying body of work. John Clausen's mental health training program, life-span approach, and acceptance of an 'odd-ball' dissertation topic were especially valuable. In 'retirement,' I weave, am an active grandmother, a cookbook memoirist, and continue to work with Gallaudet colleagues: Parents and Their Deaf Children will appear in 2003, and Oxford will publish The World of Deaf Infants in 2004.

Dissertation Title: 
Family Interaction and Hearing Status of Parents in Relation to Self-Image of Deaf Children
Dissertation Book Title: 
Sound And Sign: Childhood Deafness and Mental Health