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Edsign lecture – Possible Beings: Deaf Children and Linguistic Justice 

31st May 2023
6:30pm - 8:00pm

2022-2023 Lectures Programme


31 May 2023, 6.30-8.00 pm

Moray House School of Education and Sport, University of Edinburgh


Possible Beings: Deaf Children and Linguistic Justice 

Dr Kristin Snoddon will give a presentation on the recent case in Canada for access to sign language in education.

Carter Churchill v. Newfoundland and Labrador English School District is a test case for the standard of education provided to deaf learners in Canada who benefit from sign language (Snoddon, 2021). This presentation analyses this case and related events as they illuminate current understanding of linguistic justice and relational ethics. Carter is a deaf child with cerebral palsy whose parents filed a human rights complaint alleging that he experienced discrimination on the basis of disability in the delivery of educational services. This was due to the failure of educational authorities to accommodate Carter’s sign language needs so he had access to an education equal in quality to that of nondeaf children in an environment free from social isolation. On March 1 2023, the Human Rights Commission of Newfoundland and Labrador’s Board of Inquiry decision was released that found the school district failed to provide reasonable accommodation and discriminated against Carter during the first four years of his education. However, this decision and related events stop short of ordering linguistic justice for deaf children in the form of sign language policy and planning that fulfils a society’s ethical responsibilities to deaf people (Brando & Morales-Gálvez, 2021). Previous work outlined a social relational model of deaf childhood that employs a capabilities approach for evaluating linguistic justice and relational principles (Snoddon & Underwood, 2014; 2017). This model and approach challenge normative pillars of linguistic justice and of language (De Schutter & Robichaud, 2016), and the deficiency framing of sign languages that is pervasive in early intervention and education for deaf children and that emerges in the Newfoundland and Labrador Board of Inquiry decision.


Kristin Snoddon is a deaf scholar and Associate Professor with the School of Early Childhood Studies, Toronto Metropolitan University. Her research and professional experience includes collaborative work with deaf communities in developing sign language and early literacy programming for young deaf children and their parents. Her longstanding program of research has focused on developing a parent American Sign Language curriculum that is aligned with the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages. Additionally, she analyses policy issues related to inclusive education, sign language rights, and acquisition planning for ASL. Her current research focuses on sign language ideologies and ideologies of understanding related to deaf interpreters.


Hybrid – In person and on Zoom: 

Patersons Land 1.18, Moray House School of Education and Sport, University of Edinburgh, Holyrood Road, Edinburgh, EH8 8AQ


ASL/IS and BSL/English interpretation will be provided.



Please register because there is a limit to the number of tickets, and if you wish to connect remotely, you will receive the live recording link after registration:



EdSign Lecture Series

The EdSign Lecture Series is hosted by 4 Universities and the deaf/signing community based in Edinburgh.  We provide regular public lectures about sign languages and Deaf Studies.

Heriot-Watt University

Napier University

Queen Margaret University

University of Edinburgh


Want more information?

Please email : [email protected]

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