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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Literacies, Mobilities and Agencies of Deaf Youth in Turkey : Constraints and Opportunities in the 21st Century

  • Author(s): İlkbașaran, Deniz
  • et al.

This dissertation is a critical investigation of the literacies, mobilities and agencies of deaf youth in Turkey, where social life is increasingly mediated by digital technologies. It is an experiment on using more holistic frameworks of literacy and social navigation, towards a comprehensive social study of deaf people and their situated agencies in everyday life. The main purpose of this investigation is to understand the individual and social factors that inform the extent to which a young deaf person can access and actively participate in social life in contemporary Turkey, both online and offline. This work draws on theories and research from a range of fields, including and not limited to Deaf Studies, Literacy Studies, Mobility Studies, and Communication. The current research takes on a mixed methods ethnography, which has both quantitative and qualitative properties. Findings in this dissertation come from four kinds of data with deaf youth in Turkey : (1) language measures in Turkish and Turkish Sign Language that looks at both comprehension and production; (2) in-depth interviews on topics ranging from demographic information to language, communicative, technology and social practices; (3) a focus group meeting on employment; and (4) a virtual ethnography of linguistic and communicative practices of a Turkish deaf youth on Facebook. This dissertation work shows that the reading skills of Turkish deaf youth in Turkish are very limited, and their productive skills in written Turkish need even greater attention. It also reveals opportunities for deaf people's agencies in Turkey, which arise from youthful exploration of new technologies and social media, as well as constraints that fundamentally stem from problems in deaf education and existing divides in society based on factors like gender, income and urbanization. Finally, it suggests transliteracy as a critical skill in the empowerment of deaf youth in Turkey, in both the deaf community's relations with the state and with other deaf and hearing populations

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