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Abstract

The multicultural literature movement has its roots in civil rights and the desire to give voice and representation to marginalized cultures. Literature is a societal artifact that can inform and influence the development of cultural identity. Deaf culture is a unique culture that is underrepresented in young adult literature. This underrepresentation places more importance on accurate representations of Deaf culture since young adult fiction may be the only exposure to Deaf culture that both hearing and deaf teenagers may have. Accurate representation in literature is necessary for deaf to see themselves in what they read and for hearing to better understand this unique culture. This study analyzed 20 young adult novels published between 2000 and 2017. Each novel featured a deaf or hard of hearing teenager. A phenomenography approach with a qualitative content analysis method was utilized to inform a better understanding of the representation of deaf characters and Deaf culture within current young adult literature. Models of disability as established by Clogston (1990, 1991, 1993) and Haller (1995) were used to focus the coding analysis. Two research questions were addressed. What model of disability do these books represent? What aspects of Deaf culture, communication issues, and societal issues are represented in young adult fiction? Results of the study determined the most prevalent model of disability represented was the traditional medical model. The coding also revealed themes surrounding Deaf culture, the issues in communication that deaf face, and societal issues surrounding the deaf.

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