Electronic Theses and Dissertations





Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education


Higher and Adult Education


Adult Education

Committee Chair

Jeffrey Wilson

Committee Member

Colton Cockrum

Committee Member

Wendy Griswold

Committee Member

Donna Menke


Although the Americans with Disabilities Act has brought attention on disparities that focus on physical aspects of discrimination, there is a scarcity of research on the deaf employee's day to day experiences in a hearing work environment. Due to the differences in communication styles between deaf and hearing individuals, deaf employees face obstacles in social interaction and participation in the workplace. The purpose of this study was to explore how the deaf employee's social interaction and participation is impacted by their experiences with hearing and deaf employees in the workplace. A narrative inquiry qualitative design was used to gain understanding of the experiences of six deaf employees. The data was collected using semi-structured interviews. Three themes resonated through the data. The first theme is, "Incompatible Forms of Communication: Isolation and Alienation". Thedeaf employees all described how differences in communication between them and hearing employees made them feel as if they were not a part of the workplace. The second theme is, "I'm Deaf, but I'm Capable". The deaf employees described workplace experiences that left them feeling less than capable of performing job-related tasks. The third theme is, "Suppression:Reluctance to Speak Out". Many of the participants recalled instances in which they were denied sign language interpreters for important meetings, but were afraid to express their anger or disappointment of being left out. This reluctance to speak out perpetuates feelings of isolation from other employees. Drawing upon the narratives of the partiicpants' experiences with hearing coworkers and hearing supervisors, Wenger's model of Communities of Practice was used in evaluating the workplace dynamics of the participants' workplace environments. Based on the 14 characteristics of the Communities of Practice Model, the findings of this research show there is a need for improved communication between deaf and hearing employees to achieve a work environment conducive to learning and sharing of ideas.


Data is provided by the student.

Library Comment

Dissertation or thesis originally submitted to the local University of Memphis Electronic Theses & dissertation (ETD) Repository.