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Deaf History Month Study Abroad Spotlight: Gallaudet University and Fiona Grugan


April is Deaf History Month! We are excited to spotlight an educational institution which has played an important role in Deaf history – and to introduce a member of its exemplary staff!

A brick building on the Gallaudet campus with path leading to it under bright blue sky
A path leads to one of Gallaudet University’s historic buildings on campus.

Located in the United States’ capital city, Washington, D.C., Gallaudet University (GU) offers 60+ areas of study from undergraduate to doctorate level. It has a diverse community of 1,500+ students and 680+ faculty and staff members. GU is the only bilingual signing university in the world offering a unique American Sign Language (ASL) and English learning environment!

Fiona headshot smiling and looking at camera, young white woman with short hair and floral top, bright window in backgroundMeet Fiona Grugan, the Manager of Education Abroad and International Fellowships at GU! As Fiona describes, “I am deaf and have been traveling and studying abroad my whole life.” Fiona truly has a lifetime of experience in study abroad, beginning with kindergarten in Munich, high school language courses in El Salvador, studying twice in the Dominican Republic, and research in Morocco. She even found love abroad!

Fiona shared a quote from GU’s first Deaf president, I. King Jordan, “Deaf people can do anything hearing people can do except hear” — an important reminder this Deaf History Month. She is proud that the professional team in the Education Abroad department is deaf, and that they use their life experiences to inform advising and program development. Group trips are designed with signers in mind, require limited interpretation, and strive to connect with the international deaf community.

Consider ways to make your programming accessible to Deaf travelers or collaborate with GU or your local Deaf community. In Fiona’s own words: “Deaf travelers are capable, motivated, and engaged. I invite educational institutions, and organizations worldwide to join us in making education abroad opportunities accessible for hard of hearing and deaf students. We are committed to sharing our expertise and extending our unique bilingual approach to new partners.”

Visit NCDE’s Resource Library for tip sheets, stories, and other resources related to promoting access for deaf and hard of hearing students in international education. Or jump to our Deaf and Hard of Hearing Participants in International Exchange landing page.

Author: Ashley H

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