Susan Easterbrooks is Editor-in-Chief of Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education. We sat down with Susan to discuss her background, the developments in deaf education, and the challenges scholars face in the field.
Can you tell us a little about your background?
Thank you for asking. I have worked in the field of Deafness for 45 years as a teacher, evaluator, administrator, author, and researcher. Recently I retired from my position as a Regents’ Professor at Georgia State University. It has been my privilege to have worked in 5 different states and at several universities, which has given me the benefit of seeing multiple perspectives and a variety of consumers.
How did you get involved with Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education?
JDSDE has been the preeminent journal in my field since its inception 23 years ago. As a young professional, I read the journal and was thrilled to have my research accepted for publication. As with many professors, I took my turn as a reviewer, was then invited to be on the editorial review board, and after several years, was invited to be an Associate Editor. It was around this time that I chanced to meet the founding editor of the journal, Dr. Marc Marschark. The fields of deaf education and deaf studies are small but mighty fields and because we are so few yet so active, I already knew many of the other AEs either personally or professionally, and so when I was approached about considering the editorship, I felt honored to be able to provide this last service to my wonderful field and equally wonderful colleagues.
How has the field changed in the last 20 years?
The field has changed dramatically in the last 20 years, yet in many ways it remains the same. We have benefitted from advancements in technology that have improved listening technology, from laws and policies that require early identification as well as intervention, and from the maturity within the broader human culture that reaches out to diverse individuals. Along with these improvements, the field also experiences challenges within the cultural context such as changing political landscapes and increasing challenges to funding sources. Regarding research, we are seeing a new, vibrant group of researchers who are picking up where we left off. I have the highest regard for all that has come before and great hope for all that will unfold in the future.
From your experience, what are the challenges that deaf education scholars face today?
As with many subject areas, we appear to be struggling with the gap left by the exit of the baby boomers from the field and the diminished number of mid-career professionals available to provide guidance to early-career researchers and authors. For this reason I am calling upon my recently-retired colleagues to offer their services to guide the generation of early career researchers in establishing their track records so they may continue to provide the field with excellent research.
What do you think the journal will look like in 10 years’ time?
Ah, so you are looking for the crystal ball answer? Well, let me consult my resources and see what the future holds. This is no easy task given the plethora of changes we are undergoing in response to governmental, environmental, social, and global forces. But my crystal ball reminds me that we have already seen an upswing in submissions from international contributors, and I hope to see this trend continue. We have done a great job in addressing many of the long-standing challenges, yet many remain and I hope to see us, as a field, address many of the problems that have appeared to be intractable. I have confidence that we will continue to make advances.
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