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Role Models as Facilitators of Social Capital for Deaf Individuals: A Research

Synthesis

Stephanie W. Cawthon, Paige M. Johnson, Carrie Lou Garberoglio, Sarah J.


Schoffstall

American Annals of the Deaf, Volume 161, Number 2, Reference Issue 2016,
pp. 115-127 (Article)

Published by Gallaudet University Press


DOI: https://doi.org/10.1353/aad.2016.0021

For additional information about this article


https://muse.jhu.edu/article/621879

Access provided by UFSC-Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina (22 Dec 2016 11:18 GMT)
18908-AAD161.2_REF2016 6/14/16 2:33 PM Page 115

Cawthon, S. W., Johnson, P. M., Garberolgio, C. L., & Schoffstall, S. J. (2016). Role models as facilitators of social
capital for deaf individuals: A research synthesis. American Annals of the Deaf, 161(2), 115127.

ROLE MODELS AS FACILITATORS OF SOCIAL CAPITAL


FOR DEAF INDIVIDUALS: A RESEARCH SYNTHESIS

I
N A VA R I E T Y of contexts, deaf individuals often must navigate multiple
societal, psychological, and physical barriers. It is frequently proposed
that role models meet an important need for successful navigation in
such contexts. The present article, a research synthesis, explores avail-
able literature on role models for deaf individuals, drawing from social
capital theory to conceptualize how individuals in social networks can
facilitate the development of resources necessary for navigating various
settings. Four key themes were identified, two being that role models
(a) address a critical need and (b) contribute to important develop-
mental processes. In addition, (c) key elements appear to be necessary
for effective role modeling, and (d) multidimensional cultural affilia-
tions are important considerations within the role model process.
Though more research is needed, the findings suggest that role models
play an important role in how deaf individuals build social capital.
STEPHANIE W. CAWTHON,
PAIGE M. JOHNSON, CARRIE KEYWORDS: social capital, deaf, role ity at school and at work in compari-
LOU GARBEROGLIO, AND models son to hearing peers, deaf individuals
SARAH J. SCHOFFSTALL often encounter a fundamental lack of
Especially with a newly diagnosed understanding of what it means to be
person with hearing loss, they like deaf in a hearing world (Lane, 1992).1
CAWTHON IS AN ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR IN THE
DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATIONAL PSYCHOLOGY,
having that counselor for the deaf. For instance, whether at home, in
UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS, AUSTIN, AND ASSOCIATE Because theyre seeing similarities school, or in the community, deaf
DIRECTOR OF THE RESEARCH AND EVIDENCE there. . . . Wow, you have a masters youth are often in settings where there
SYNTHESIS UNIT OF PEPNET 2 (POSTSECONDARY degree and youre a rehabilitation are limited opportunities for effective
EDUCATIONAL PROGRAMS NETWORK 2). JOHNSON IS counselor for the deaf and youre communication (Hillburn, Marini, &
A GRADUATE STUDENT IN THE DEPARTMENT OF
deaf. Well, hell, that means I can do Slate, 1997; Mitchell & Karchmer,
EDUCATIONAL PSYCHOLOGY AND A GRADUATE
RESEARCH ASSISTANT IN THE RESEARCH AND
something! Even with my hearing 2011). This language and communica-
EVIDENCE SYNTHESIS UNIT. GARBEROGLIO IS A loss. So [the counselor as a] role tion context creates a potential vacuum
PROJECT MANAGER WITH THE MEADOWS CENTER model is also very important. in the types of immediate personal sup-
FOR PREVENTING EDUCATIONAL RISK, UNIVERSITY Statewide vocational port for deaf individuals and the avail-
OF TEXAS, AUSTIN, AND WITH THE RESEARCH AND
rehabilitation coordinator, quoted by ability of opportunities to build social
EVIDENCE SYNTHESIS UNIT. SCHOFFSTALL IS A
GRADUATE STUDENT IN THE DEPARTMENT OF
Cawthon and the RES Team (2012) networks and work toward their goals
EDUCATIONAL PSYCHOLOGY AND THE LEAD (Solomon, 2012).
GRADUATE RESEARCH ASSISTANT IN THE RESEARCH Navigating negative attitudes, histori- Access not only to direct instruc-
AND EVIDENCE SYNTHESIS UNIT. cal prejudices, and reduced accessibil- tion and support but also to incidental

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ROLE MODELS AS SOCIAL CAPITAL FACILITATORS

learning opportunities is critical to ef- the potential to (a) create interper- In particular, the literature on role
fective functioning at school, in the sonal bonds within an established net- models who work with diverse popu-
workplace, and in social settings work of peers and (b) facilitate lations emphasizes both social and
(Brackenbury, Ryan, & Messenheimer, bridging between the individual and academic benefits for minority youth
2006; Lederberg, Prezbindowski, & resources outside his or her environ- (Bone & Slate, 2011; Haycock, 2001).
Spencer, 2000). The pervasive socie- ment (Putnam, 2000). Role models For example, it was found that in
tal, psychological, and physical barri- can also serve as institutional agents school contexts, minority students
ers experienced by deaf individuals (Stanton-Salazar, 2011) who use their performed better academically if they
limit incidental learning opportuni- social membership, status, and experi- were taught by minority teachers
ties, particularly opportunities to ence to benefit and empower youth (Meier & Stewart, 1992). Possible ex-
build social capitalthe relation- who have unequal access to these planations include reduced negativity
ships, value systems, institutions, and types of resources. around discipline issues, increased
other resources that enable access to student comfort levels in the class-
people, organizations, and economic Defining Role Models room, and the perception on the part
attainment (Bourdieu, 1986; Holland, The literature relating to role models of students that the minority teachers
Reynolds, & Weller, 2007). The impact draws from a variety of theoretical were strong role models (Tyler,
of reduced or absent social capital can frameworks, orientations, and re- Yzquierdo, Lopez-Reyna, & Flippin,
be seen in employment rates that are search methodologies (see, e.g., 2004). The National Collaborative on
not commensurate with deaf individu- Allen, Eby, Poteet, Lentz, & Lima, Diversity in the Teaching Force (2004)
als level of training: Given their level 2004; Eby, Allen, Evans, Ng, & Dubois, advocates greater representation of
of training, people who are deaf are 2008; Zand et al., 2009). There are minority teachers in schools as a way
often underemployed, and continue many definitions of role models in the of increasing attendance rates, reduc-
to earn less than their hearing peers research literature, both in terms of ing truancy, providing access to men-
over the course of their careers role models personal characteristics toring, solving problems, and, in
(Cawthon & RES Team, 2012). Abun- and the function of a role model rela- general, improving academic achieve-
dant social capital allows one to navi- tionship. These definitions vary from ment of diverse student populations.
gate complex workplace situations broad, such as informal life coaching, Deaf individuals, in most contexts,
when there are not clear external cri- to programmatic, such as the Big are also a minority group. Therefore,
teria for admissionfor example, Brothers/Big Sisters program (Thomp- there may be an opportunity for role
when an employee wants to be con- son & Kelly-Vance, 2001). Some schol- models to have a protective influence
sidered for participation in a new proj- ars define the mentoring relationship on deaf individuals as they navigate
ect or would like to be involved in as one in which the role model pro- barriers to full access at school and
building partnerships between differ- vides personal support to an individ- in the workplace. In this regard, a
ent organizations or companies. With- ual who is in need of a relational school psychologist offered the fol-
out access to the full mix of informal infrastructure and guidance (Rhodes, lowing perspective:
and formal communication opportu- 2005). Domains in which role models
nities necessary to build social capital, provide support and guidance also Many of the elementary school par-
it can be challenging for deaf individu- vary, and can include academic, work- ents are deaf themselves, but in mid-
als to gain entry to advancement and place, and community settings (Eby et dle and high school, most of them
higher levels of responsibility. al., 2008). Programs and structures are hearing, and they send their kids
Although building social capital is a for role models vary depending on to the dorms through middle and
lifelong endeavor, sources of social whether the intention is to enhance high school. So many of the families
capital for young people from cultur- specific skills, such as literacy (da dont know how to sign, or they
ally diverse groups, in particular, stem Costa, Klak, & Schinke, 2000), or to might just know fingerspelling. So
from interactions between the indi- prevent problem behaviors such as there really isnt much support for
vidual and the family and immediate truancy, drug use, or other criminal socioemotional development. There
social networks (Holland et al., 2007; activity (see, e.g., the Check and Con- are positives and negatives; the
Lee & Bowen, 2006). Role models, as nect student engagement interven- teachers and the floor staff often end
one category of relationships within tion model, Sinclair, Christenson, & up acting as their parents. They are
an individuals social network, have Thurlow, 2005). good role models; they have deaf

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adults there [at the school] and they torship relationship had a positive im- cle search and analysis process is dis-
see them being successful. (Cawthon pact on these measured outcomes cussed below.
& RES Team, 2012) after 8 months of the relationship. Al-
though not explicitly defined as social Identifying the Articles
Benefits of Role Models capital, successfully building and We searched for published empirical
Outcomes of mentoring relationships maintaining relationships is a critical research that focused on role model
are often defined in terms of the ben- skill in gaining access to those essen- programs, informal role models, and
efits gained by the mentee as well as tial networks. These (and similar) teacher supports, as well as for analy-
potential amelioration of negative be- meta-analyses of mentorship out- ses of personal guidance and social
haviors and outcomes. Evaluations of comes in the general population pro- support for deaf individuals. There
role model effectiveness are some- vide a reference point for further were two inclusion criteria: (a) the
times targeted toward a performative analysis of these outcomes specifically work had to have been published in
goal, such as achievement in school for deaf individuals. the form of a book, dissertation, or
for children classified as at-risk peer-reviewed article (for simplicitys
youth or progress up a career ladder The Goal of the Study sake, we henceforth refer to all of
(Kram, 1985; Thompson & Kelly- The purpose of the present article is these as articles), and (b) it had to
Vance, 2001). Thompson and Kelly- to explore the available research liter- include a description of an individual
Vance (2001) describe a further ature on the function and impact of or program that provided external
example from a specific mentoring role models for deaf individuals. support for deaf individuals or groups
program: Boys who had mentors from Within Deaf communities, role mod- of individuals. We searched databases
the Big Brothers/Big Sisters program els are often said to be crucially im- that hold articles related to develop-
(who had not previously experienced portant (Ladd, 2003). However, the ment and deaf populations, including
academic success) had significantly literature relating to role models for EBSCOhost, PsycINFO, and PubMed.
higher scores in areas of reading and deaf individuals is distributed across a We did not restrict the year of publica-
math than boys who did not have wide range of settings and theoretical tion in our search. Eighteen articles
mentors. A meta-analysis of general frameworks. In the present study, the were found to fit the two criteria.
mentoring outcomes for mentees in goal was to conduct a research syn-
hearing populations that investigated thesis of the literature that would Summarizing the Articles
the broader impact of mentoring on at- encompass multiple potential con- We then summarized the identified ar-
titudes, achievement, and motivation ceptualizations of a role model that ticles individually for main theoretical
to continue in work and educational may exist across multiple develop- frameworks used in each study itself,
pursuits demonstrated a significant, mental stages and in a variety of sample characteristics, study design
but small, overall effect size of mentor- contexts. We were unable to find a characteristics, and primary outcomes
ing (Eby et al., 2008). previous systematic synthesis or and findings. An additional column
The effect of mentoring appears to meta-analysis exploring role-modeling for notes and explanations of key
vary in strength across settings, with processes with deaf individuals. This terms or perspectives was also used to
larger effects found in workplace and research synthesis explores the avail- highlight key points emphasized in
academic settings (Eby et al., 2008). able literature base relevant to role each article. This process was guided
Zand et al. (2009) looked more deeply models for deaf individuals, drawing by the first author and conducted by
into these constructs, investigating from social capital theory to concep- the second author.
how the quality of the mentorship re- tualize how individuals within social
lationship, defined as alliance, af- networks can facilitate the develop- Identifying Descriptive
fected the strength of mentees ment of resources that are necessary Themes
relationships with adults, family bond- to navigate a variety of settings. The first round of analysis was guided
ing (e.g., attachment and degree of by our main research question: What
supervision), school bonding (e.g., Method does the extant literature on the im-
degree to which school was valued), The present study used a qualitative portance of role models suggest for
and life skills (e.g., standing up to research synthesis approach, also re- individuals who are deaf? We read
peer pressure, self-efficacy). Zand et ferred to as thematic synthesis through the notes for each of the indi-
al. found that the quality of the men- (Thomas & Harden, 2008). The arti- vidual articles and identified themes

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that emerged throughout the find- refinement of the clusters included Table 1
ings. For example, emergent descrip- identification of key constructs. This The 18 Works Reviewed for the
tive themes related to the need for unstructured exercise led to the iden- Research Synthesis
role models, contexts in which role tification of the theoretical frames Allen, Eby, Poteet, Lentz, & Lima (2004)
models were found, the impact and that, in the teams view, captured the Benedict et al. (2015)
outcomes of role models, and cul- essential argument in the analysis as Bone & Slate (2011)
tural affiliations. These initial themes well as subthemes that are addressed Covell (2006)
stayed close to the findings of the arti- in the Discussion section of the pres- Eby, Allen, Evans, Ng, & Dubois (2008)
Foster & MacLeod (2004)
cles. This process was completed in a ent article (see below).
Hintermair (2007)
collaborative manner by the first and
Hintermair (2008)
second authors. Results and Discussion
Luckner & Muir (2001)
The thematic analysis that emerged Luckner & Velaski (2004)
Theme Synthesis from the synthesis of 18 relevant arti- Michael, Most, & Cinamon (2013)
In a second round of analysis, all four cles is reported and discussed here. Nikolaraizi & Hadjikakou (2006)
authors participated in a generative Four key themes relating to role mod- Parasnis, Samar, & Fischer (2005)
process based on the identified arti- eling with deaf individuals were iden- Rodgers & Young (2011)
cles and basic themes, in a process of tified across the literature base. (See Selwood (2005)
going beyond the initial descriptive Table 1 for a list of the articles.) These Thompson & Kelly-Vance (2001)
themes so that we might better un- themes were not discretely located in Watkins, Pittman, & Walden (1998)
derstand how they might tie to social each article; rather, they arose from Zahn & Kelly (1995)
Note. Complete citations are provided in the
capital. While some of these key find- the synthesis discussions that oc-
Reference section.
ings may have been parallel to the ini- curred when all of the articles were
tial descriptive themes, the purpose discussed holistically. In sum, it be-
of the second session was to think came clear that (a) role models standing of the challenges deaf indi-
about how role models function in address a critical need for deaf indi- viduals faceknowledge gained from
building social capital. Each partici- viduals, and (b) role models con- their own personal and professional
pant was given a separate subset of tribute to important developmental experiences. Yet for parents of chil-
the articles to read prior to a face-to- processes for deaf youth, in particu- dren who are deaf, the child is often
face meeting (randomly assigned to lar. In addition, when role model the parents first encounter with a
participant, with no overlaps between processes were evaluated, we found deaf individual (Benedict et al., 2015).
participants). The initial descriptive that (c) key elements appear to be Parents with deaf children often learn
themes were made available to each necessary for effective role modeling, what it means to be deaf from their
participant as a starting point for fur- and (d) multidimensional cultural af- child, as well as from others they in-
ther discussion. During the meeting, filiations are important considerations teract with who have personal or pro-
each participant read through her in the role model process. Sub- fessional experience (e.g., life as a
assigned articles and wrote key find- themes, as relevant, will also be dis- family with a deaf child is different,
ings on a stack of colored Post- cussed, particularly in regard to not worse, not better, but different).
It notes. These notes were then or- developmental processes and key ele- For parents who never had contact
ganized, without discussion, into clus- ments of effective role modeling in with a deaf individual until they had
ters of associated and outlier concepts building social capital. their deaf child, what they know
on a whiteboard. Only after the group about the capabilities of people who
felt that the display of Post-It notes Role Models Address a are deaf is usually limited to what is
was arranged in a conceptually stable Critical Need provided by the media (Michael,
and nonredundant manner did we en- The primary theme that emerged Most, & Cinamon, 2013).
gage in a discussion about the ideas from the readings was that role mod- This limited knowledge of what
represented on the board. The discus- els who work with deaf individuals deaf individuals can achieve has po-
sion was an opportunity for each team address a critical need: a need for fa- tential implications for families be-
member to explore the rationale be- cilitators of social capital within these liefs about their deaf childs ability
hind the clusters as well as the rela- individuals immediate context. Role to navigate through life successfully.
tionships between them. Further models necessarily have an under- More specifically, negative percep-

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tions and low expectations of possible lieved to have played a key role in als form positive and supportive rela-
future outcomes can in turn be harm- their successes in adult life. It was tionships, and thus the opportunities
ful to their deaf childs development, found that older deaf adults felt that deaf individuals have to build social
as they can be exhibited or manifested involvement with other deaf individu- capital.
through parental behavior and atti- als, in particular, was an important
tudes (Jamieson, Zaidman-Zait, & contributor to their success (McKee Parental Attitudes
Poon, 2011). Indeed, recent research & Connew, 2001; Roberson & Shaw, The overall findings indicated that
has shown that parental expectations 2015). Deaf senior citizens recom- parents who had access to mentors or
are a strong predictor of long-term ed- mended that families with deaf chil- role models demonstrated a positive
ucation, employment, and independ- dren engage with deaf seniors more shift in attitudes, moving toward a
ent living outcomes for deaf youth frequently as a valuable resource more optimistic perspective on their
(Cawthon, Caemmerer, & pepnet 2 (Roberson & Shaw, 2015, p. 226). deaf childs potential (Rodgers &
Research and Evidence Synthesis These deaf senior citizens advice to Young, 2011; Watkins, Pittman, &
Team, 2014). Hearing parents of deaf families of deaf children prioritized Walden, 1998). It appears that having
children are not always able to pro- factors involved with social networks a deaf mentor or role model, in partic-
vide strong social and cultural support and relationships: community-based ular, may confer those benefits (see,
to their children (Zahn & Kelly, 1995); learning, the value of communication, e.g., Henderson, Johnson, & Moodie,
thus, support from family, friends, involvement with other deaf individ- 2014). One study explored differential
community members, and profession- uals, the importance of family com- outcomes that resulted from families
als in their childs educational pro- munication and signing, sibling working with deaf mentors as op-
gram is an important component of involvement, and inclusion of deaf posed to nondeaf mentors. The study
maintaining a healthy family dynamic children as genuine members of the demonstrated that parents who had a
(Luckner & Velaski, 2004). However, it family. The strength of available sup- deaf mentor provided better accessi-
has been found that even in families port networks was also described as a ble-language models (both signed
with well-functioning dynamics, par- key factor in the success of young deaf and spoken) during home observa-
ents feel that their children lack deaf adolescents, who described their net- tions and expressed a desire for their
friends and role models (Luckner & works as consisting of families, peers, children to read and write well, to
Velaski, 2004). Role models appear to coaches, teachers, and interpreters learn sign language, and to have deaf
meet a crucial need for families of (Luckner & Muir, 2001). Deaf adoles- friends (Watkins et al., 1998). The
deaf children, alongside the need that cents self-perceptions and expecta- parents who were not matched with
exists for deaf individuals. tions for the future were entwined deaf mentors were more focused on
Qualitative data collected across a with the strength of their relation- academic and career success. Overall,
wide swath of people involved with ships, and these relationships pro- parents who had a deaf role model
deaf individuals development, in- vided the moral support they needed working with their family demon-
cluding deaf individuals themselves, to be successful (Luckner & Muir, strated a positive shift in attitudes
demonstrate that social networks and 2001). about their childs future (Rodgers &
relationships are crucial factors that Young, 2011; Watkins et al., 1998). In
contribute to the success of deaf Role Models and addition, parents who worked with
youth, whether in family contexts or Developmental Processes deaf mentors reached an understand-
elsewhere. Even if the 18 articles do Role models appear to contribute to a ing that developing a Deaf identity
not mention role models explicitly, multitude of developmental processes, was an important contributor to their
the social networks and relationships not only for deaf individuals but also childs overall well-being (Selwood,
they describe align with the literature for their families. The research synthe- 2005).
describing role models as institu- sis revealed five subcategories of devel- Yet it is necessary to acknowledge
tional agents, mentors, and impor- opmental processes: shifting parental that conflict may occur between fami-
tant components of social networks. attitudes, language development, lies and their mentors, role models, or
Of particular interest are retrospec- identity development, formation of the surrounding Deaf community,
tive interviews, in which deaf individ- navigational capital, and psychosocial which may result in parents feeling
uals were asked to reflect upon their development. These developmental that they are being ostracized (Luckner
lives and describe elements they be- processes are integral to how individu- & Velaski, 2004). This conflict often

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surrounds challenging decisions about skills have on later access to social net- such a strong and diverse community.
communication choices, assistive lis- works is also yet to be investigated. The development of Deaf cultural
tening technologies, and educational identity can build self-esteem; it has to
options, which are a perpetual pres- Identity Development do with knowing ones self and where
ence on the deaf education landscape. Role models appear to make an impor- one comes from, and represents
These conflicts can reduce the positive tant contribution to identity develop- ownership and pride (Covell, 2006).
benefits of a role model in regard to ment for deaf adolescents, providing Educational contexts in which
how families are able to tap into social opportunities to develop, evolve, and there are higher numbers of deaf indi-
capital resources for their deaf chil- test out ones identity. Social net- viduals from whom potential role
dren. However, the child may grow as a works are a key mechanism by which models may be drawn also appear to
part of this experience and see differ- individuals develop their identity. Hin- be highly salient contexts for the ex-
ent possible alternatives that were not termair (2008) describes a theoretical ploration of Deaf identity (Nikolaraizi
a part of the family dialogue prior to shift in the field to the concept of & Hadjikakou, 2006). Schools can of-
the introduction of an outside perspec- identity work, in which individuals fer a connection to a world beyond
tive from the Deaf community. seek to bring together different com- ones family, particularly for those
ponents of their lives into a meaning- deaf youth who do not have access to
Language Development ful, purposeful whole (Chandler & the Deaf community. In People of the
In synthesizing the literature, we Roberts-Young, 1998). Identities thus Eye: Stories from the Deaf World,
identified language development as adapt and respond to ones daily inter- McKee and Connew (2001) share
an important and freestanding devel- actions, a socially constructed process narratives about the educational ex-
opmental process that role models that results in different understand- periences of 16 deaf adults from New
might be able to support for deaf ings of self and agency in different ex- Zealand. Those deaf adults empha-
youth. The communication and lan- periences and settings (Baumeister, sized the important role of older deaf
guage contexts of a deaf childs devel- 1997). Because many of the role mod- students as mentors for the younger
opment also require that particular els for deaf individuals come from the students. Furthermore, the education
attention be paid to this issue. Yet only Deaf community, it is a key resource setting served as an informal way for
one study was found that explicitly for both formal and informal role deaf parents to be visible to deaf stu-
made the link between mentoring ac- model relationships for deaf youth. dents who had hearing parents:
tivities and subsequent language de- Acculturation into a community is When my deaf parents came to my
velopment (Watkins et al., 1998). As an important part of how role models school the other Deaf children were
mentioned previously, the parents shape and support an individuals just blown away, because they never
who worked with deaf mentors pro- own identity development (Hinter- had seen a Deaf adult before. Up until
vided more accessible language mod- mair, 2007, 2008). Like other ethnic then they thought we were the only
els (both signed and spoken) for their groups, the Deaf community has its Deaf children in the world. They were
deaf children. However, their children own language, culture, and societal amazed to realize that grownups
also demonstrated greater language norms. A deaf role model who is could be Deaf (McKee & Connew,
gains in expressive and receptive lev- strongly affiliated with the Deaf com- 2001, p. 162). The school thus serves
els of both languages that were used munity appears to be a strong facilita- as a point of connection for potential
(English and American Sign Lan- tor of social capital, creating linkages role models for deaf youth. Deaf
guage), a finding that indicates that a between the deaf youth and other in- adults educational experiences clearly
deaf role model or mentor can make a dividuals in the community and ex- play a significant formative role in
direct contribution to deaf young chil- panding the support group available their identity development, which
drens language development, albeit to that individual. A role model who may be highly dependent on whether
within a constrained time frame, that understands that there are multiple or not they attended deaf schools or
of early childhood. Whether role mod- ways of viewing what it means to be had access to deaf role models out-
els can support the language develop- deafthat there are negative views side of school (Nikolaraizi & Had-
ment of deaf individuals during later but also positive sociocultural models jikakou, 2006).
developmental periods remains to be of Deaf identity, can help raise self- However, because deaf youth may
explored; the impact those language esteem and pride in being a part of not have effortless access to a pool of

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diverse role models in their immedi- are deaf can share personal experi- with career planning found that deaf
ate community, formalized structures ences that provide insight into their youths whose parents did more direct
for the provision of role models can own strategies for navigating the instruction and explicit modeling of
enable necessary representations of workplace in a hearing world (Foster navigational strategies had stronger
possible selves that are attainable and & MacLeod, 2004). For scientists in self-efficacy beliefs in relation to their
relate to the young persons own ex- training, their deaf mentors passed on employment plans (Michael et al.,
perience (McKee & Connew, 2001; navigational capital via these four ac- 2013).
Selwood, 2005). A formalized pro- tivities: (a) inviting mentees into Outside the home, deaf individuals
gram in New Zealand in which deaf a broader community of scholars, interact with a broad range of profes-
mentors were assigned to work with (b) story sharing, (c) transferring self- sionals as they progress through their
deaf youth was perceived to be a advocacy skills for access and accom- formal education and transition into
valuable resource for deaf students modation needs, and (d) introducing the workplace, often requiring that
(Selwood, 2005). The mentor pro- students to a broader science, tech- these professionals collaborate as a
gram contributed to students self- nology, engineering, and mathematics team in order for services to be effec-
acceptance as deaf individuals and (STEM) network (Listman, 2013, pp. tive (Luckner & Muir, 2001). Research
their increase in knowledge about 8586). Listman (2013) explored the on professionals as role models in sec-
Deaf culture. experience of deaf students who were ondary settings has shown that they
navigating a very new context, of sci- may wear multiple hats when work-
Navigational Capital ence in the academy, in which they ing with deaf students, serving as
The literature surrounding role mod- had limited previous experience, and teachers, tutors, friends, and advo-
eling with deaf individuals frequently thus spotlighted the clear need for cates. A study of the social networks
mentioned how role models and role models or mentors who could fa- of successful deaf students demon-
mentors shared strategies for maneu- cilitate the development of naviga- strated that those students had access
vering through life situations, one of tional capital in transitions to new to professionals who provided posi-
the benefits of having a social net- settings. tive feedback and had high expecta-
work. The concept of navigational Deaf youth who worked with deaf tions for their future after high school
capital recognizes that specific skills role models in a family-based program graduation (Luckner & Muir, 2001). Af-
may need to be passed on, and devel- were seen to demonstrate improve- ter deaf students enter the workplace,
oped, so that members of minority ments in independent living skills, a colleagues or supervisors helped deaf
groups can navigate institutions that finding that suggests that deaf role employees be successful by providing
are not designed with minority com- models had successfully passed on specific strategies for navigating the
munities in mind (Yosso, 2005). Role those critical navigational strategies hearing workplace environment, such
models from within the Deaf commu- (Rodgers & Young, 2011). Yet role as in the area of communication (Fos-
nity can provide ideas and strategies models or mentors who are not deaf ter & MacLeod, 2004). It is clear that
on how to cope with distressing situa- themselves may also play a role in navigational capital comes into play
tions in the navigation of the hearing facilitating the development of deaf throughout the life cycle of an individ-
world and to reduce frustration that individuals navigational capital. In ual, and those role models, mentors,
young deaf individuals may experi- those situations, the concept of an or institutional agents are able to pass
ence (Covell, 2006; Nikolaraizi & Had- institutional agent may come into on, or facilitate the development of,
jikakou, 2006). For young people, playsomeone who holds higher sta- strategies for maneuvering environ-
adult deaf role models can provide in- tus and position, who draws from that ments that are not designed for deaf
sights into how they coped with the position in order to provide specific individuals.
stressors that can arise in a society forms of institutional and social sup-
based on hearing norms and assump- port (Stanton-Salazar, 2011). Those Psychosocial Development
tions (Covell, 2006). institutional agents may include indi- The positive benefits of social connec-
Navigational capital differs across viduals such as parents, interpreters, tions built through interactions with
contexts, as each specific context has and work colleagues or supervisors. mentors appear to have broader psy-
its own cultural behaviors and norms. For example, a study of the specific chosocial benefits that may carry over
In the workplace, role models who forms of parental support involved to multiple contexts. Deaf youths op-

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portunities to build cultural affilia- in peer relationships and social inter- cial factor in their success at building
tions with the Deaf community ap- action (Selwood, 2005). We can see social capital (Foster & MacLeod,
pear to be important contributors that those psychosocial processes, in- 2004; Luckner & Muir, 2001). Effective
to psychosocial well-being (Hinter- cluding an increased sense of worth, mentors were described as individuals
mair 2008; Jambor & Elliot, 2005). self-confidence, acceptance of being who challenged their mentees and
Deaf adults who more strongly identi- deaf, and improved peer relation- held high expectations, while contin-
fied with the Deaf community, as indi- ships, are all important components uing to provide support so that the
cated by (a) percentage of friends of developing resilience. These bene- mentees could reach their goals (Fos-
who were deaf and (b) level of in- fits have great potential for making an ter & MacLeod, 2004). The experience
volvement with the Deaf community, impact on multiple dimensions of life of having mentors or role models who
also had higher self-esteem (Bat- beyond adolescence and the young believed in deaf youths potential
Chava, 1994). The importance of con- adult years. early in life, such as parents or teach-
nection to community, as well as ers, appeared to instill the confidence
potential deleterious effects of dis- Elements of Successful that was needed for future achieve-
connection, is further illustrated by a Role Modeling ment (Foster & MacLeod, 2004). More
study by Kent (2003) on self-identifi- The role-modeling process includes specifically, the effects of high expec-
cation of deaf and hard of hearing stu- multiple elements, and individuals tations appear to play a significant
dents in mainstreamed settings. In a relationships with their role models formative role in development of the
survey of mainstreamed hard of hear- vary widely. Role-modeling processes confidence and resilience that will be
ing youth, Kent found that over half may include supporting, guiding, or needed to navigate future environ-
(56%) did not identify as having a mentoring the individual as a friend ments in which the role model or
hearing disability. Those who did (Thompson & Kelly-Vance, 2001), mentor will not be present.
identify as having a hearing loss expe- teaching or coaching the individual However, it is necessary to recog-
rienced significantly higher levels of through important life transitions, or nize that holding high expectations of
loneliness compared to individuals providing empathy (Foster & Mac- deaf individuals does not imply that
who did not disclose, or compared to Leod, 2004). The literature synthesis these expectations are tied to any spe-
their hearing peers. The potential revealed two key themes related to ef- cific societal perspective on what it
negative effects of identity disclosure fective role-modeling processes with means to be successful. Rather, as
among deaf youth in mainstreamed deaf individuals: high expectations the following quote shows, it may suf-
settings spotlight ways in which role and effective communication. fice just to have the expectation that
models can provide guidance or ame- deaf individuals can achieve whatever
liorate some of the challenges of be- High Expectations hearing individuals can.
ing known as or functioning as a deaf Throughout the descriptions of the
person in a hearing world. important social relationships that Being a positive role model is not
Role models and mentors can be a contributed to deaf individuals later necessarily synonymous with being a
part of how a deaf individual builds success, whether via role models, successful person, as judged by ob-
his or her own personal resources, re- mentors, or other professionals, a jective standards such as academic
siliency, and strength (Hintermair, consistent theme was that of high ex- success and good employment. Nor
2008). Deaf youth who worked with a pectations. It appears that ensuring is it defined by being a particular
deaf mentor or role model demon- that role models are available in the kind of d/Deaf person (for example,
strated an increased sense of worth deaf individuals environment may one who wears a cochlear implant or
(Rodgers & Young, 2011) and greater not be sufficient, in and of itself; it also one who signs or one who speaks).
confidence than when they did not seems necessary that these role mod- While it was clearly important for
have a mentor (Selwood, 2005). Deaf els hold high expectations of the deaf parents to learn to have positive and
adults who had a mentor in the work- individuals potential and abilities. high expectations of their deaf chil-
place, whether deaf or not, also re- Studies of successful deaf individuals, dren through their encounters with
ported having an increased sense of whether adolescents or adult profes- d/Deaf role models, was it important
confidence (Foster & MacLeod, 2004). sionals, indicate that having role for such positive expectations to
Deaf youth who worked with deaf models or mentors who held high ex- be couched in terms of professional
mentors also exhibited improvements pectations of their potential was a cru- or academic success? From the [Deaf

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role models] perspective, it was ated spaces for accessible communi- and sociological framework (Rodgers
quite clear that they were positive cation through a variety of mecha- & Young, 2011; Parasnis, Samar, & Fis-
role models, simply through being nisms, such as designing visually cher, 2005) are especially important
who they were as individuals and friendly lab spaces where cubicles for young people entering adulthood.
through showing that d/Deaf people were not isolated, leading meetings Deaf role models provide a strengths-
can do what hearing people do. It with sign language as the primary based perspective on what it means to
was as important to show this can language, creating conditions for inci- be deaf and how these experiences
do ability at everyday levels (such as dental learning, and providing oppor- have shaped who they are in a posi-
by driving a car, having a family, hav- tunities to extend academic concepts tive way. Yet deaf role models are dif-
ing hobbies and interests, going on beyond the classroom via direct lan- ferent from hearing advocates in
holiday, and so forth) as it was to guage access (Listman, 2013). several important ways. Deaf role
demonstrate exceptional achieve- In an analysis of career-related models can serve as experts and ad-
ment (educational achievement, parental modeling, deaf youths who vise younger deaf individuals on how
professional standing, wealth, or so- primarily used sign language per- to overcome the obstacles life may
cial acclaim). (Rodgers & Young, ceived lower levels of career modeling bring. Hearing role models can be ad-
2011, p. 14) and verbal encouragement when vocates, and can also share some ex-
compared to hard of hearing youths amples from individuals they have
Effective Communication who relied primarily on spoken lan- worked with or been close to. This is
In a discussion of the role of social re- guage (Michael et al., 2013). Among an essential part of conveying infor-
lationships in deaf individuals lives, it multiple potential explanations for mation needed to build social capital.
is necessary to consider the level of this finding, it is possible that barriers There is, however, still a sense of dis-
communication access that is avail- in language access limited the ability tance between the advice they can
able. Deaf senior citizens emphasized of parents to encourage career aspira- give and their own personal experi-
the importance of natural communi- tions by talking to their children about ence. For this reason, while the contri-
cation, recommending that parents of their goals or their own employment butions and other forms of support
deaf children ensure that effective, ef- experiences. In school settings, Amer- of hearing advocates are essential for
fortless, and accessible communica- ican Sign Language interpreters have deaf individuals, there is a specific
tion be available to their children been found to serve as teachers, tu- function of deaf role models that can-
(Roberson & Shaw, 2015). Role mod- tors, friends, parents, and advocates not be replaced. Deaf role models
els who share language modalities for deaf students in mainstreamed en- have been there, and show a can-
with deaf individuals can easily foster vironments (Luckner & Muir, 2001), do attitude (Rodgers & Young,
effective communication. Indeed, it which suggests that in environments 2011) that is a rare and unique form
may be the case that the positive out- with limited language access, the of support.
comes that emerged as a result of hav- individual with the greatest direct However, identity is constantly
ing role models or mentors who were language access has the greatest ca- evolving, and always multifaceted.
deaf themselves are not only ex- pacity to serve as a role model or insti- There is not one Deaf identity to be
plained by the shared experiences tutional agent. attained; what it means to someone to
and wisdom, but also by the accessi- be deaf is a highly personal experience
ble, and effective, communication Multidimensional Cultural (Bat-Chava, 2000). Furthermore, Deaf
that was present. An unintended im- Affiliations identity, if relevant, is not the sole iden-
pact of the availability of deaf mentors Within the role-modeling relation- tity that individuals enact. A significant
and role models is that those individu- ship, it is necessary to consider the limitation that emerged in the litera-
als have an innate understanding of multidimensional cultural affiliations ture synthesis concerned intersec-
the need for accessibility in communi- that may or may not be shared be- tional identity issues, particularly those
cation, and thus facilitate conditions tween the role model and the individ- of race and ethnicity. There was only
that enable effective communication, ual. Particularly among groups that one study that directly addressed these
described as deaf space in Listman have suffered a history of oppression issues, exploring whether or not deaf
(2013). Deaf college students who or marginalization (Benedict et al., students enrolled at a university pro-
worked with deaf professionals ex- 2015; Bone & Slate, 2011), role mod- gram serving deaf individuals (National
plained that these professionals cre- els who are within ones own cultural Technical Institute for the Deaf) felt

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that role models they could personally Lee, & Sass-Lehrer, 1995). Those ex- Future Directions
identify with were available in their en- pectations can be even more demand- There are many potential future direc-
vironment (Parasnis et al., 2005). Stu- ing for ethnic-minority professionals tions for the line of inquiry pursued in
dents expressed the feeling that there who are deaf, because of the smaller the present study. We were unable
was a need for increased representa- number of these professionals in the to conduct a systematic analysis of
tion of professionals across campus field, and may lead to burnout (Paras- specific components of role model
with diverse racial and ethnic affilia- nis et al., 2005). processes (e.g., age, setting, program-
tions, and not only in service positions matic approaches) that may lead to
(e.g., janitorial). Overall, students race Limitations of the Study differential outcomes; this would be a
and ethnicity had a significant effect on The present analysis had a number of promising area for further investiga-
whether or not they felt that there limitations. First, few published re- tion. For instance, the multidimen-
were sufficient role models available to search studies are available that are di- sional cultural affiliations that may or
them, and on the importance they as- rectly related to the function of role may not be present in the available
cribed to these role models. For in- models in the lives of deaf individuals. role models for deaf individuals are
stance, African American students who Second, although the social capital clearly an area that needs more re-
were deaf felt that having role models theoretical framework was used in search. In addition, our review ex-
who were African American was more this analysis to tie together different plored how role models facilitate the
important than having role models aspects of the research literature, the formation of navigational capital, but
who were deaf (Parasnis et al., 2005). researchers who conducted these the available literature was insufficient
The findings from the study by Parasnis studies often did not use this frame- for us to explore how role models
et al. (2005) spotlight the need to fur- work to set up their research design may facilitate other forms of capital
ther explore issues surrounding the and contextualize inferences about that may be relevant to overall social
availability of diverse role models for their findings. It is possible that differ- capital (i.e., aspirational capital and
deaf individuals who possess intersec- ent outcomes or conclusions would linguistic capital; Yosso, 2005). We rec-
tional cultural affiliations beyond Deaf be drawn from the extant research ommend that researchers continue
identitysuch as those of race, ethnic- base if there were alignment between this line of inquiry, particularly consid-
ity, gender, disability, and sexuality. the theories or assumptions used to ering the important role of proficient
In discussions of the need for role drive the research and the broader language models in pathways for lan-
models who share cultural experi- perspective included in our analysis. guage development and accessible so-
ences with deaf individuals, whether a Third, our conceptualization of role cial networks for deaf youth.
shared Deaf identity or other intersec- model may not be what all of the
tional identities, the obligations and study authors would have intended in Conclusion
demands placed on minority profes- their own definition of the persons or In sum, the literature synthesis we
sionals in the workplace often go un- supports included in their individual conducted showed that role models
recognized. These obligations and studies. For example, studies that address a critical need for deaf individ-
demands are not specific to the expe- examine the impact of having a uals, and serve an important function
riences of deaf professionals, but mentor may, in the view of the study as individuals form the building blocks
rather are a widespread phenomenon authors, be different from what we on which social capital is formed, from
experienced by minority profession- have proposed as an umbrella for po- early life to later periods of develop-
als, conceptualized as cultural taxa- tential role models and how they ment. The literature base on role
tion (Padilla, 1994). It was found that support the development of social models for deaf individuals was
deaf professionals largely felt a con- capital for deaf individuals. Finally, we strongly skewed toward qualitative ap-
sistent and almost instinctual desire did not assess the quality of the stud- proaches, which appear to be ideally
to sustain and expand a Deaf commu- ies that were included in this synthe- situated to capture these longer-term
nity of scholars by becoming role sis. Doing so would have been beyond processes and experiences. Role mod-
models (Listman, 2013, p. 107). How- the scope of the present study and els for deaf individuals contribute to es-
ever, the demands placed on deaf in- may have left us with insufficient stud- sential developmental processes across
dividuals, whether professionals or ies to conduct a research synthesis, multiple life periods and settings, rang-
parents, to serve as role models can considering the limited amount of re- ing from early childhood to the work-
become onerous (Meadow-Orlans, search in this area. place. Understanding how role models

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prepare individuals to be thriving ments may mirror what is seen in and even advocate on behalf of deaf
members of a strong social network analyses of effective mentoring of mi- individuals as institutional agents, the
requires a multidimensional ap- nority youth (Allen et al., 2004). For present synthesis indicates that their
proach. There is no one set of skills example, formal programs to recruit, function is complemented by the
that an individual needs in order to train, and retain professionals from unique contributions of role models
leverage the benefits of social capital. underrepresented backgrounds also who are deaf themselves. However, a
In our review, five key developmental emphasize psychosocial supports significant gap in the literature exists
processes were identified as highly within mentor-mentee (or -protg) in terms of multidimensional cultural
relevant to role-modeling and men- dyads (Yager, Waitzkin, Parker, & Du- affiliations and shared identities be-
toring processes with deaf individuals: ran, 2007). Effective mentorship can yond and intersecting with deafness,
shifting parental attitudes, identity de- also include honest discussion of diffi- such as race, ethnicity, gender, addi-
velopment, formation of navigational cult societal issues such as race, tional disability, and sexual identity.
capital, language development, and racism, and privilege (Chan, 2008), The opportunity to have role models
psychosocial development. As op- conversations that both require and who share similar cultural affiliations
posed to a direct impact on tangible build openness and trust within the is crucial for students who are mem-
outcomes such as academic achieve- dyad. This level of risk taking and bers of underrepresented groups
ment or successful employment, role safety is essential to getting past the (Barnett, Gibson, & Black, 2003;
models appear to make a greater con- surface aspects of an experience Ensher & Murphy, 1997); these affilia-
tribution to developmental processes and understanding greater societal tions are also important characteris-
such as the development of self-es- norms and challenges that individuals tics to consider in role models for deaf
teem, confidence, and identity, which might face. Across multiple disci- individuals. The research gap in the
become mediators for longer-term plines, a concerted effort to support literature relating to role models for
outcomes in academics and the work- ethnic-minority professionals has fo- deaf individuals aligns with what we
place. In addition, the impact of role cused on one-to-one mentorship know about professionals who work
models may emerge over longer peri- models that include both content with deaf individuals across a variety
ods than brief experimental studies knowledge (e.g., how to succeed in of settingsthat the vast majority of
can capture, and have cumulative ef- the field) and emotional support these professionals are hearing White
fects (Thompson & Kelly, 2001). For (e.g., friendship and alliance; da Costa women (Cawthon & RES Team, 2012).
example, deaf individuals explained et al., 2000; Johnson, 2002). Together, Future work in this area will need to
that their current workplace mentors these elements provide a place for the expand concepts of role models for
were able to build upon parental en- individual to grow to his or her capac- deaf individuals to include multiple
couragement that had instilled strong ity, as well as the support to do so. identities, including but not limited to
attitudes earlier in life (Foster & These elements represent compo- Deaf identity.
MacLeod, 2004). These foundational nents of strong social capital and cre- We hope that this discussion about
dispositions and experiences may be ate an environment in which the role models and deaf individuals will
catalysts for how an individual en- individual has the skills to obtain ac- help professionals acquire a deeper
gages in experiences that build social cess to it effectively. What is critical is and more nuanced understanding of
capital during the emergence into that the role model be able to instill the importance and function of role
adulthood. those high expectations and maxi- models for deaf individuals, particu-
The literature review revealed two mize opportunities while at the same larly as it relates to their experiences
key elements involved with effective time building a foundation that will al- in building social capital as they move
role modeling for deaf individuals: low that individual to be successful in from adolescence into adulthood.
high expectations and effective com- the future.
munication. These two elements cut The final theme that emerged as a Note
across contexts, from the home to necessary component to consider 1. For deaf individuals, identity and
school to the workplace. The ways in when discussing role models for deaf group membership terminology varies
which high expectations are ex- individuals was that of the multidi- on the basis of many factors. Specific
pressed and effective communication mensional cultural affiliations of role factors, including ones own preferred
is maintained by role models for deaf models. Although hearing individuals language modality and cultural iden-
individuals in professional environ- can provide high levels of support, tity, are often intertwined with family

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ROLE MODELS AS SOCIAL CAPITAL FACILITATORS

language, cultural context, and com- Brackenbury, T., Ryan, T., & Messenheimer, T. tional problems in deaf and hard of hearing
(2006). Incidental word learning in a hearing children in Germany. American Annals of
munity and school resources (Hin-
child of deaf adults. Journal of Deaf Studies the Deaf, 152(3), 320330.
termair, 2008; Israelite, Ower, & and Deaf Education, 11(1), 7693. Hintermair, M. (2008). Self-esteem and satisfac-
Goldstein, 2002). In the present arti- Cawthon, S., & RES Team. (2012). Pepnet 2 needs tion with life of deaf and hard-of-hearing
cle, we use the term deaf individuals assessment final report. Retrieved from www people: A resource-oriented approach to
.pepnet.org identity work. Journal of Deaf Studies and
to encompass those who identify as Cawthon, S., Caemmerer, J., & pepnet 2 Re- Deaf Education, 13(2), 278300.
deaf, Deaf, hard of hearing, or late search and Evidence Synthesis Team. Holland, J., Reynolds, T., & Weller, S. (2007).
deafened; those who use visual (2014). Parents perspectives on transition Transitions, networks and communities:
and postsecondary outcomes for their chil- The significance of social capital in the lives
and/or auditory communication dren who are d/Deaf and hard of hearing. of children and young people. Journal of
modalities; and those who may or American Annals of the Deaf, 159(1), 721. Youth Studies, 10(1), 97116.
may not participate in the Deaf com- Chan, A. (2008). Best practices of outstanding Israelite, N., Ower, J., & Goldstein, G. (2002).
mentors in psychology: An ecological, rela- Hard-of-hearing adolescents and identity
munity through its educational and
tional, and multicultural model (Doctoral construction: Influences of school experi-
social structures. Where an individual dissertation). Available from ProQuest Dis- ences, peers, and teachers. Journal of Deaf
study or resource discussed in this ar- sertations and Theses database. (UMI No. Studies and Deaf Education, 7(2), 134148.
ticle uses specific terminology for a 3313810) Jambor, E., & Elliott, M. (2005). Self-esteem and
Chandler, D., & Roberts-Young, D. (1998). The coping strategies among deaf students.
subgroup under this deaf umbrella, construction of identity in the personal Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Educa-
we use the language of the original home pages of adolescents. Retrieved from tion, 10(1), 6381.
source document.The Authors University of Wales, Aberystwyth, website: Jamieson, J. R., Zaidman-Zait, A., & Poon, B.
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