My primary research project, sponsored by a Fulbright Postdoctoral Scholar Award (2017-2018), follows 19 deaf youth in Mexico City, Mexico and extends my 2012-13 dissertation research (also Fulbright funded). I use a community-based approach that incorporates participatory and visual methods including photovoice, digital storytelling and personal history timelines. Photovoice asks participants to respond to research questions and themes using digital photography and “participatory analysis”, the iterative process of using images for dialogue, coding and exploration of themes.
“Photovoice” involves asking deaf youth to describe their experiences within the signing community of practice at IPPLIAP. Photographic data are analyzed using participatory analysis (the co-production of knowledge and theories between the research and participants) and these data are triangulated with interviews fro participants’ families and participant observation. Photovoice themes included: Un día en mi vida/A Day in My Life; Escuela y Aprendizaje/School & Learning; and Lengua de Señas Mexicana (LSM)/Mexican Sign Language. Resulting data underscore the importance of sign-based language socialization using deaf youths’ perspectives, imagery and narratives. I worked closely with Marcela Gómex de los Reyes, participants’ sixth grade teacher, and Fabiola Ruiz de Bedolla, the school psychologist in 2013, to integrate themes from our project into school curricula and affective education
In January 2018, I established a longitudinal study allowing me to follow up with the same deaf participants with whom I worked in 2012-13. We used the digital images they created as a springboard for investigating their personal, educational, and social developments. These participants are the first generation of graduates from IPPLIAP to travel as a signing cohort to secondary school and were high school freshman when I returned to continue our project. This longitudinal design promotes the efficacy of IPPLIAP’s cohort-based secondary program as they expand opportunity for deaf youth in Mexico City. Proyecto Fotovoz will be a central focal point of my forthcoming ethnographic monograph “The Evidence is Life: Joy and Social Justice through Mexican Sign Language” (in early-stage preparation for Gallaudet University Press).
Images below were taken during the first installation of our 2013 exposition “Proyecto Fotovoz” which reached a variety of stakeholders including participants’ families and teachers, IPPLIAP donors and sponsors, and an audience of teachers and administrators from across the Mexican Republic who attend the annual, IPPLIAP-sponsored educator training “SeñaLees”.