Prof Quadros will discuss the role of linguists as activists, outlining how language issues are critical to the health and well-being of individuals and societies and describing how linguists can observe the needs around them and rise to the challenge of meeting those needs. Then she will use the matter of deaf children and first language acquisition as her example of such activism, explaining how a language/linguist activist must get involved with the political scene around them and what it means to advocate for language rights.
Prof. Sutton-Spence will pick up from there, giving an overview of a project of creating an anthology of literature in Libras, the sign language of Brazil, and one part of it that deals with creating and gathering stories for deaf children, where those stories aid in language acquisition and in developing pride in deaf identity. That will segue into a description of what sign literature is all about, including how that literature deals with the linguistic and broader language matters that deaf people face throughout their lives. She will conclude with suggestions concerning what the analysis of sign language literature teaches us about linguistics and language structure.
Prof. Wilkinson will then offer an overview of the larger scene of sign language structure and of the various major approaches to sign language analysis today. She will give insight into basic but complex issues all theoretical models must face, such as what criteria we can use to know when we are dealing with principles of grammar, versus principles of visual communication in general, versus principles of motor coordination, among others. Then she will focus in on matters of language typology.
All panelists will be using their own research for examples. Prof. Napoli, as someone who works in all three areas, will moderate the panel. Profs. Quadros and Wilkinson will present in ASL. Profs. Sutton-Spence and Napoli will present in English. We will therefore want appropriate interpreters.