This paper contextualizes multimodality theory in digital-epistemological paradigms and analyzes their combined effects upon operations of power in deaf pedagogical practices. Deafness is unbound by geography. Deaf people constitute a heterogeneous, globalized ethnic minority who are singularly linked. Often thought to be rendered powerless by disability, deaf people generate forms of power that disrupt conventional ontology and epistemology by way of divergent adaptations of visuospatial language modalities. As creators and users, deaf people have positioned themselves at the cutting-edge of innovation by developing and repurposing digital technologies to secure insurgent power in the face of sociopolitical oppression. This paper establishes digital environments of deaf education (DE2) as an object of study. Research reviewed in this study (Bauman & Murray, 2014; Thoutenhoofd, 2010; Young and Temple, 2014), demonstrates that multimodality is a critically important but undertheorized concept related to power in deaf education. The paper reviews multimodality theory, entrained as a lens to examine DE2. Findings are subdivided into three categories: (1) the purposes for which DE2 are used, (2) the practices constitutive of DE2, and (3) the characteristics of learners and educators within DE2. The paper closes by examining DE2 exemplars via multimodality. This paper contextualizes multimodality theory in digital-epistemological paradigms and analyzes their combined effects upon operations of power in deaf pedagogical practices, including how knowledge is created and shared by deaf people using digital technologies and pedagogical practices derived thereof. This investigation examines how technosocial tools are embedded in a nexus of historical, social, political, and educational changes—at key times, deaf people effectuate change with celerity. This paper argues that theoretical deaf research is clarified by multimodality; likewise, multimodality benefits by considering deaf ontologies/epistemologies. Converging domains illuminate the dynamism and synergy of technosocial changes in history, and contributes to literatures on the history of technology by documenting complex, interdependent relationships between digital knowledge modalities and the deaf users who drive their development.
Date of creation, presentation, or exhibit
Department, Program, or Center
Master of Science in Secondary Education (NTID)
Skyer, Michael E., "Multimodality in the Digital Environments of Deaf Education (DE2)" (2019). Accessed from
RIT – Main Campus