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Deaf People Have Not Been Adequately Included as Participants in Educational Research

Deaf Student Awarded Doctorate from Mary Immaculate College, (MIC) Limerick

Deaf people have not been adequately included as participants in educational research according to Dr. Noel O’Connell, who this week became the second deaf person ever in Ireland to be awarded with a PhD Doctorate as he graduated from Mary Immaculate College, Limerick.

Dr. O’Connell, who is originally from Clonmel, Co. Tipperary but now resides in Limerick, chose deaf education as  a research topic for his PhD, entitled, A Critical (auto) ethnographic study of Deaf people’s experience of education and culture in the context of Ireland, as he felt many deaf people faced barriers to education because educators used a language that was inaccessible to them.  According to Dr. O’Connell educators communicated in a majority language that required the use of the vocals and listening skills. In addition the majority of the literature devoted to education of deaf people has been written from the dominant non-deaf perspective. Commenting on this he said;

While understanding these issues is important, it does not closely reflect the experiences of deaf people with the way they define their own culture. Deaf people have not been adequately included as subjects in educational research. They are frequently excluded from studies concerning education and where they are included in such studies they tend to be under-represented. I believed there was a need to fill that void by creating a space for the voice of deaf people to better represent and authenticate their educational experiences”.

Commenting on the time he spent at Mary Immaculate College Dr. O’Connell said;

What is unique about Mary I is the sense of community I found in the College that separates the experience from any other academic institutions.  My time here has enriched my life in so many ways as the College provided access to communication support services and ensured that my study was an enjoyable and worthwhile experience”.

Commenting on his thesis his Research Supervisors Professor Jim Deegan, Head of Graduate School, MIC and Anne O’Byrne, MIC lecturer said

“It has been a remarkable journey of discovery and scholarship by an author who has given us a truly unique and original insight into the schooling and lives of Deaf people in Ireland. Noel’s work represents a triumph for the unbounded potential of the human spirit and awakens the child within us all. Dr. O’Connell’s PhD contributes to a new understanding of research scholarship that touches equally the heart and the mind”.

Congratulating Dr. O’Connell, Prof. Michael A Hayes, President of MIC, said;

Dr. O’Connell’s work will play a major part in progressing our understanding of Deaf education and culture both within and outside Deaf communities and enrich all of our lives in an increasingly diverse world. We commned him for this”.

1010 students from 24 counties and 3 continents were conferred at MIC with academic awards across 23 programmes including  18 students who were conferred with PhD awards, the highest number of Doctoral Awards ever conferred at Mary Immaculate College, Limerick.

Pictured at the recent graduations at Mary Immaculate College, Limerick was Dr. Noel O’Connell, with his supervisors Anne O’Byrne, MIC Lecturer and Prof. Jim Deegan , Head of Graduate School, MIC. Dr. O’Connell is the second Deaf person ever in Ireland to be awarded with a PhD Doctorate and the first for Mary Immaculate College.

Dr. Noel O Connell pictured with his daughter Emma Aaen O’Connell at the recent MIC graduations.



Mary Immaculate College, South Circular Road, Limerick, Tel:+35361 204300  V94VN26

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