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COM 295 Section 001

Summer 2015, Lecture

Dr. Darrin Griffin

Office Hours and Contact Information

Office: 210-C Reese Phifer

Phone: 205-348-2714


Office Hours: By appointment


UA Course Catalog Prerequisites

No prerequisites or none listed.

Course Description

UA Course Catalog Information


There is often a contrast in how mainstream culture (i.e., hearing) and the deaf think about deafness. Hearing persons tend to reflect on deafness as the loss of a sense (hearing), something that depletes one of experience, and are prone to apologize to or express sympathy towards the deaf. However, views of deafness by those who are culturally Deaf themselves do not focus on hearing, but rather they embrace visual and physical communication. Deafness is not entirely based on one's audiological status, but rather deafness can be thought of as a way of thinking, acting, being, and interacting. Moreover, the culture of the Deaf embraces unique ways of seeing the communicative world.

This intercultural communication course is designed to introduce all students to the rich history of deafness in the United States. Students will learn about the language, American Sign Language (ASL), of the Deaf and learning about accurate cultural-linguistic portrayals will dispel myths about deafness/ASL. Students will explore theories about how cognitive and language development are intricately tied to one another and the controversies revolving around educating deaf children. By taking on multiple perspectives of deafness (e.g., medical vs. cultural) students will better understand how society learns about the deaf through media and popular culture. The course will conclude by offering students insights regarding appropriate intercultural interactions and clear understandings of cross-cultural communicative barriers. Through the journey into the Deaf World students will explore and find their own answers to the following questions relevant to intercultural communication and deafness:

- Who is deaf? What are the types of deafness?

- What does it mean to be Deaf?

- Is deafness a disability?

- How are the deaf educated and how do people learn ASL?

- What language(s) are taught to deaf children?

- Do the Deaf have unique communicative rights?

- What is sign language and how does it function as a communicative channel?

- Does technology solve communication issues between Deaf and hearing?

- What are best practices for interacting with people who are deaf?

Student Learning Outcomes

After completion of this course students will be able to:

-       Differentiate between various types of physiological deafness and understand multiple perspectives of deafness

-       Recognize differences in the structure and nature of ASL – as compared to spoken and written English

-       Discuss the history of deafness and ASL in the United States

-       Articulate the perspectives of D/deafness and inherent contradictions

-       Cite the major tenets of the Americans with Disabilities Act as it relates to people who are D/deaf

-        Understand cognitive impacts of D/deafness and visual communication

-       Recite at least five prescriptions for interacting with the Deaf

Required Texts

UA Supply Store Textbook Information


Outline of Topics

  • Teacher and student introductions & review of course and syllabus
      1. Visual campus activity – “perspectives”
      2. Basics of D/deafness
      3. Intro to ASL & fingerspelling
  • Defining deaf/deafness/Deaf – terminology and other vernacular to know
  • The physiology of deafness [and/or the organ of hearing]
  •  Various perspectives on deafness; Theories, practice, & views in society (e.g., movies and TV shows)
  •  Deaf history in the United States & in Alabama (e.g., Helen Keller)
  •  Deaf Culture
      1. Deafhood (the deaf experience)
      2. Sub-groups (e.g., Black-Deaf)
      3. Dr. Griffin’s research and findings on Deaf culture and deception
  •  Language –American Sign Language (ASL) and other types of “signing”
  •  Fingerspelling and other forms and functions (e.g., cued speech)
  •  Language acquisition – how children and adults learn ASL
  •  ADA = the Americans with Disabilities Act
  •  Disability – when and if deafness is a disability
  • Deaf rights and rights to access/communication
  •  ICTs = Information & Communication Technologies and the Deaf
      1. Ludditism?
      2. Deaf Video TV
  •  Master Noticers = brain plasticity/cognitive impacts of deafness/ASL
  •  Practical applications, takeaways, and intercultural interactions
      1. What it all means about communication in general
      2. What we learned


Exams and Assignments

Student learning and performance throughout the course will be evaluated and measured using:

-       Reading quizzes; 4 worth 5 points each =                                           20 pts

-       Reading reflections 4 worth 5 points each =                                       20 pts

-       *Attendance/On time/Warm-up assignments (9am every class) =        30 pts

*Note – these are worth 2 points each and cannot be made up

-       Wikipedia page development (in dyads or triads of students) =            10 pts

-       Discussion & activity leader for one hour total =                                 10 pts

-       Final oral presentation on a component from the course =                   10 pts

Total Course points = 100

Details of each of these evaluations will be discussed in detail during class time. 

Grading Policy

Students are evaluated in their performance and learning via points. A total of 100 points are available and a grading rubric (on next page) will be used to assign the final letter grade. Do not calculate your grade or conduct mathematical magic - simply use the grading rubric below to determine your final letter grade at the end of the course. As a reminder - do not contact me near the close of the term and ask for opportunities for points. These type of requests will be ignored. I welcome students to communicate with me throughout the course on how to improve and earn the most points possible. The simplest prescription is to read and prepare for class. J


Visit the registrar's site on the meaning of letter grades (click for link) to better understand and read an explanation of the assigned final letter grades. Although extra credit might be given in this course, it will be infrequent and students should not rely on it to earn the desired letter grade. Extra credit - if given - is extra. It does not change the scale for the class – the rubric will always be based off 100 points, extra points will only serve to help you get more points. The way to earn the desired letter grade is by completing assessments, being on time to every class, and working to understand and follow the course content. 

Point to Letter Grade Rubric

Final Points                                                Letter Grade

100-97                                                           A+

96-94                                                             A

93-90                                                             A-

89-87                                                             B+

86-84                                                             B

83-80                                                             B-

79-77                                                             C+

76-74                                                             C

73-70                                                             C-

69-67                                                             D+

66-64                                                             D

63-60                                                             D-

59-0                                                                F


Grade Requirement Statement

Students must earn a “C-” or better in all required and elective courses in the major /minor for communication studies. A “C-” or better is required in all external courses required by the major/minor whether they serve as a prerequisite to a major course or are simply required by the degree.


Policy on Missed Exams & Coursework

Keep in minding missing one of our classes is equivalent to missing a week of a normal class! Also, once you are registered for the class you are responsible for being in class (no exceptions). Students are expected to attend class and to be on time (this means 9am!). Class will start promptly at the scheduled time and tardy students will serve only to disrupt the classroom activities. Please arrive before the start of class. Students having difficulty attending class or arriving on time will earn lower marks because of the way the grading system is set up for this class. Students having more than three absences will have their final letter grade dropped by an entire letter. Arriving to class late two times will count as an absence. University sanctioned excuses will not count as an absence, but must be communicated to me in-person (not in email!) previous to the day of the absence (that morning will not count). Please do not wait until the morning of class or the hour before the class meeting that will be missed to warn me of absences. All work that is missed for any absence (including excused absences) must be made up the next class day. Failure to coordinate a makeup time and complete the makeup within one day will result in a deduction for the evaluation. Satisfactory documentation will be required to show that the absence is excusable and I reserve the right to contact the person or entity listed on the note. 

Attendance Policy

This class meets everyday for three weeks. You will not peform well (letter grade) and miss classes. See the section above on Policy on Missed Coursework. 

Attendance Policy = Attend Class on Time :) 

UA Statement on Diversity

The mission of The University of Alabama is to advance the intellectual and social condition of the people of the State through quality programs of teaching, research, and service. That educational mission is enhanced by the robust exchange of ideas that occurs within a diverse and inclusive environment. Students who learn from each other and from faculty members and administrators, including those at the highest levels of leadership, in an environment with a variety of backgrounds are better able to understand, appreciate, and contribute to our twenty-first century global society. Consequently, the University endorses a student, faculty, and administrative community enriched by women and men of diverse national origins, races, ethnicities, sexual orientations, cultures, socioeconomic and geographic backgrounds, ages, physical abilities, and religious and political beliefs.

To report ANY type of harassment prohibited by UA policy, see

Severe Weather Guidelines

The guiding principle at The University of Alabama is to promote the personal safety of our students, faculty and staff during severe weather events. It is impossible to develop policies which anticipate every weather-related emergency. These guidelines are intended to provide additional assistance for responding to severe weather on campus.

UA is a residential campus with many students living on or near campus. In general classes will remain in session until the National Weather Service issues safety warnings for the city of Tuscaloosa. Clearly, some students and faculty commute from adjacent counties. These counties may experience weather related problems not encountered in Tuscaloosa. Individuals should follow the advice of the National Weather Service for that area taking the necessary precautions to ensure personal safety. Whenever the National Weather Service and the Emergency Management Agency issue a warning, people in the path of the storm (tornado or severe thunderstorm) should take immediate life saving actions.

When West Alabama is under a severe weather advisory, conditions can change rapidly. It is imperative to get to where you can receive information from the National Weather Service and to follow the instructions provided. Personal safety should dictate the actions that faculty, staff and students take.

The Office of University Relations will disseminate the latest information regarding conditions on campus in the following ways:

  • Weather advisory posted on the UA homepage
  • Weather advisory sent out through UA Alerts to faculty, staff and students
  • Weather advisory broadcast over WVUA at 90.7 FM
  • Weather advisory broadcast over Alabama Public Radio (WUAL) at 91.5 FM
  • Weather advisory broadcast over WVUA-TV/WUOA-TV, and on the website at WVUA-TV Home Team Weather provides a free service you can subscribe to which allows you to receive weather warnings for Tuscaloosa via e-mail or cell phone. Check for more details and to sign up for weather alerts.

In the case of a tornado warning (tornado has been sighted or detected by radar; sirens activated), all university activities are automatically suspended, including all classes and laboratories. If you are in a building, please move immediately to the lowest level and toward the center of the building away from windows (interior classrooms, offices, or corridors) and remain there until the tornado warning has expired. Classes in session when the tornado warning is issued can resume immediately after the warning has expired at the discretion of the instructor. Classes that have not yet begun will resume 30 minutes after the tornado warning has expired provided at least half of the class period remains.

Disability Statement

If you are registered with the Office of Disability Services, please make an appointment with me as soon as possible to discuss any course accommodations that may be necessary.

If you have a disability, but have not contacted the Office of Disability Services, please call (205) 348-4285 (Voice) or (205) 348-3081 (TTY) or visit 133-B Martha Parham Hall East to register for services. Students who may need course adaptations because of a disability are welcome to make an appointment to see me during office hours. Students with disabilities must be registered with the Office of Disability Services, 133-B Martha Parham Hall East, before receiving academic adjustments.

Policy on Academic Misconduct

All students in attendance at The University of Alabama are expected to be honorable and to observe standards of conduct appropriate to a community of scholars. The University of Alabama expects from its students a higher standard of conduct than the minimum required to avoid discipline. At the beginning of each semester and on examinations and projects, the professor, department, or division may require that each student sign the following Academic Honor Pledge: “I promise or affirm that I will not at any time be involved with cheating, plagiarism, fabrication, or misrepresentation while enrolled as a student at The University of Alabama. I have read the Academic Honor Code, which explains disciplinary procedure resulting from the aforementioned. I understand that violation of this code will result in penalties as severe as indefinite suspension from the University.”

See the Code of Student Conduct for more information.

UAct: Ethical Community Statement

The University of Alabama is committed to an ethical, inclusive community defined by respect and civility. The UAct website ( provides extensive information on how to report or obtain assistance with a variety of issues, including issues related to dating violence, domestic violence, stalking, sexual assault, sexual violence or other Title IX violations, illegal discrimination, harassment, child abuse or neglect, hazing, threat assessment, retaliation, and ethical violations or fraud.