Maartje De Meulder

I’m a deaf scholar and activist based in Antwerp, Belgium. I have an MA in Disability Studies from Ghent University, an MSc in Deaf Studies from the University of Bristol, and a Ph.D. from the University of Jyväskylä. I am currently affiliated with the Namur Institute of Language Text and Transmediality (NaLTT) at the University of Namur. My research grant is an Incoming Post-doctoral fellowship co-funded by the Marie Curie actions of the European Commission.

My academic profile is by nature cross-disciplinary, and my research roadmap is inspired by contemporary societal challenges. I am first of all a language policy scholar, and language policy is the major thread connecting the dots in my academic work.

My main research interest and specialization in this area is the legal recognition of sign languages and sign language rights as intersectional rights (language and disability). I’m also interested in family language policy. My current research project focuses on sign language vitality and revitalization.

Another research interest (following my training in both Disability Studies and Deaf Studies) are discourses around the implementation of inclusive education for deaf learners, and more specifically meanings of ‘inclusion’ as advanced by (primarily) the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

A more recent research interest is sign language interpreting, which I approach from a social science perspective. I’m interested in sign language interpreting as a social institution, how sign language interpreting has become tied with ideologies of ‘access’ and ‘inclusion’ for deaf people via interpreter-mediated vs. direct communication, and how this links with language and code choices deaf people make. Given my own position as a deaf academic, I’m also interested in how deaf academics and other deaf professionals work with sign language interpreters.

My academic work is informed by my position as an engaged scholar. I see research as a conversation and I try to contribute to  conversations about contemporary societal challenges in different ways, beyond their academic contexts. Twitter (@mdemeulder) is one way to do this, as well as blogging, and writing for other publications than academic ones. Another one is being involved in different kinds of consultancy and activist work, for example for deaf associations.

I’m also very enthusiastic about supporting other deaf scholars, both students and early career researchers. I think it’s an exciting time to be a member of a vibrant international network of deaf researchers.