Simangele is working with d/Deaf and hearing team - teachers exploring their undocumented teaching and collaborative practices in teaching South African Sign Language (SASL). As a hearing researcher, her goal is to advocate for equitable professional development policies in response to linguistically diverse classrooms with d/Deaf and hearing students.
One of the key changes in d/Deaf education in South African include the recent recognition of South African Sign Language (SASL) as a language of teaching and learning. Traditional language modes in d/Deaf education included a combination of SASL and spoken language. Yet with the new legislature, a new teaching model has emerged with hearing teachers who were not fluent in SASL collaborate with a Deaf teaching assistant in teaching the SASL curriculum. This research will answer the following questions; 1) What is the Deaf/hearing teachers perceptions of the team-teaching in the classroom?, and 2) How does the team -teaching collaboration affect their classroom pedagogy?. These questions are of great importance in exploring the global trend in Deaf education of classrooms that increasingly include sign languages as mediums of instruction.
What does being a Public Scholar mean to you?
Being a public scholar means being part of a research community that actively positions itself away from traditional "ivory towers" of knowledge that can sometimes be in opposition to the community it attempts to serve. Public Scholarship means inclusivity in its most raw form.
In what ways do you think the PhD experience can be re-imagined with the Public Scholars Initiative?
Traditional knowledge production has had a long-standing tradition of being literary based. The PhD experience should be reimagined in taking on various mediums of collecting and disseminating research that is responsive to the pressing public issues. Western literary traditions are no longer the sole source of knowledge, non-literary communities (such as the d/Deaf community) also possess their own unique ways of creating and spreading knowledge important to their communities. The role of the PSI is to challenge long-standing traditional literary PhD experiences and act as a bridge between the literacies and knowledge communities between the d/Deaf and hearing communities, especially in diverse settings such as d/Deaf education.
How do you envision connecting your PhD work with broader career possibilities?
I envision my PhD work as acting as a stepping stone in providing consultative possibilities between legislature and school districts, particularly in foregrounding d/Deaf pedagogical practices into legislature that previously ignored it.
How does your research engage with the larger community and social partners?
Education reform in Deaf education seldom consults with teachers in the classroom to whom these policy changes affect the most. My research works with Deaf/hearing team - teachers in under-resourced schools for d/Deaf students to engage in an ongoing process of collaborative teaching practices. The research will also be an opportunity to incorporate teachers own experiences in the evolving education policy in order to improve education for ALL d/Deaf students whether they use signed or spoken language in the classroom.
Why did you decide to pursue a graduate degree?
My Masters research catapulted me into exploring the collaborative practices between Deaf and hearing teachers. My experience with NGO's and universities in Canada and South Africa strengthened my resolve to make an impact in d/Deaf education after noticing insufficient legislative support for teachers teaching sign languages. I want my research to ultimately influence policy and practical implications of d/Deaf education.
Why did you choose to come to British Columbia and study at UBC?
Dr. Belliveau's work in research based theatre and Dr. Kendrick's work in multimodal literacy support my exploration of utilising signed and spoken languages as a bridge between the d/Deaf and hearing teachers in the classroom. The freedom allows me to challenge my own and society's preconceived notions of conducting research for the good of both the d/Deaf and hearing community.
Education reform in Deaf education seldom consults with teachers in the classroom to whom these policy changes affect the most. My research works with Deaf/hearing team - teachers in under-resourced schools for d/Deaf students to engage in an ongoing process of collaborative teaching practices.