The first known Black Deaf woman to receive a PhD from Canada was Dr. Jenelle Rouse, who accomplished this feat in 2020.
Attended University of Western Ontario, where Jenelle Rouse obtained her doctorate in philosophy. Because she felt it was crucial, Rouse spent years of her career as an educator to teaching sign language to deaf youngsters.
In 2008, she enrolled in and finished the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Teacher Education Program at York University. 2016 saw Rouse complete her Master of Arts in Applied Linguistics in Education at the University of West Ontario. She earned her doctorate four years later.
Jenelle Rouse is currently a Canadian researcher in applied linguistics and a dancer who tells stories through modern body motions that she developed herself.
“This is beyond proof of anything possible to break the stigma/stereotype that people think Black Deaf person can’t do anything, especially the education,” Rouse’s friend, Abigail Danquah, wrote on Facebook. “She can do it, then you can do it anything is possible when dream will come true.”
She concluded the post with, “Do not let anyone tell you that you can’t do the goals of what you dream of become your future!”
Not only does Jenelle Rouse advocate for deaf children learning sign language, but she also calls for more people (deaf or not) to learn sign language. Jenelle Rouse doesn’t limit ASL to communicating with other people who are deaf, but she also brings ASL to theater performances she participates in.
There are now roughly 20 Black deaf scholars, according to the Described and Captioned Media Program. Dr. Alesia Allen, Dr. Opeoluwa Sotonwa, Dr. Onudeah Nicolarakis, Dr. Rezenet Moges-Riedel, and Dr. Slemo Warigon are the additional Black Deaf people having doctorates.
Shirley Allen is the first Black Deaf woman to receive a doctorate in the United States. In 1992, she graduated with a doctorate in education from the University of Rochester. She completed her undergraduate studies at Gallaudet University and her graduate studies at Howard University before that.