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Language Resource Center Speaker Series - Corrine Occhino

Wednesday, April 13, 2022 at 4:00pm to 5:00pm

Stimson Hall, G25
204 East Ave., Ithaca, NY 14853, USA

"What Everyone Should Know about ASL and American Deaf Culture"
Corrine Occhino
Assistant Professor of Languages, Literatures, and Linguistics, Syracuse University 

ASL (American Sign Language) is experiencing a pop-culture moment. In the past few years, ASL has been visible in TV-shows, movies, commercials, and in sports and news broadcasts. ASL programs are popping up in schools and colleges all over the U.S. Despite dips in enrollment for many college programs, student enrollment in ASL classes is at an all-time high, as it has quickly become one of the most popular languages to take on college campuses. But despite its growing popularity, the hearing world knows little about ASL, its role in Deaf culture, its status as a real, human language, or the daily frustrations many Deaf ASL signers experience as they fight for access and inclusion in a hearing world.  

In this talk I will take you on a whirlwind tour of ASL and the signing communities who use it. In the first half of my talk, I will discuss ASL's roots in Deaf Education and the role segregation played in the creation of ASL varieties. I will talk about the communities of signers who use ASL, why ASL is a Deaf language, and why language deprivation is still a very real problem for deaf children in the U.S.  

In the second half of my talk, I will talk about some interesting linguistic properties of ASL and what research on ASL has taught us about language, and language learning. I will end with a discussion of how learning ASL opens the door to understanding Deaf culture, but also invites us to interrogate the ways we can disrupt the hegemony of hearingness, making way for a more inclusive and equitable society. 

Bio: Dr. Corrine Occhino is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Languages, Literatures, and Linguistics and in the Department of Teaching and Leadership at Syracuse University. Dr. Occhino received her Ph.D. in Linguistics from the University of New Mexico in 2016. In 2017, she joined the Center on Culture and Language at the National Technical Institute for the Deaf at Rochester Institute of Technology where she ran the ASL Assessment Project. She now runs the Multimodal Language Lab at Syracuse University, where she uses a combination of corpus-based, psycholinguistic, and sociolinguistic approaches to study language in the visual modality. Most recently, Dr. Occhino has published articles on the phonological organization and structure of ASL, sociolinguistic variation in ASL, and on the role of experience and construal in ASL-English bilingual language processing. Dr. Occhino also works on issues related to language access and social justice, equity, and inclusion in deaf communities, collaborating on research projects aimed at improving reproductive health outcomes for deaf women and increasing the representation of minoritized dialects of ASL and their signers in the documentation and study of ASL.

This event will be held in person in G25 Stimson and will also be streamed live over Zoom. Join us at the LRC or on Zoom.

The event is free and open to the public. Campus visitors and members of the public must adhere to Cornell's public health requirements for events, which include wearing masks while indoors and providing proof of vaccination or a recent negative COVID-19 test.

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