University of Michigan Library

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

Deaf Studies Digital Journal Revamp Transforms Michigan Publishing DEIA Efforts

Couple using sign language

Deaf Studies Digital Journal, created by Gallaudet University and produced by Michigan Publishing Services, has been a pioneer in accessible scholarship since its inception in 2009. The world’s first peer-reviewed journal dedicated to publishing cultural, creative, and critical work in and about sign languages and Deaf culture, DSDJ is a bilingual and bimodal publication primarily presented in both American Sign Language and English. DSDJ publishes work on a wide variety of topics, including literature, visual arts, film/video, interviews, reviews, and archival history footage and commentary. It also features academic work in other sign languages, such as British, Italian, and international sign languages.

On January 1, 2018, the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) announced a $323,479 grant to Gallaudet University which would help make DSDJ content freely and publicly available online on a fully multilingual and multi-modal digital platform, with content including scholarly articles, sign language literature, visual arts, and historical archival footage and commentary. Thanks to this grant, Michigan Publishing Services and Gallaudet successfully launched the first OA online issue of the journal in late 2020 and are publishing subsequent issues throughout 2021 and beyond.

This grant was made possible with the support of Michigan Publishing to produce the next iteration of DSDJ and transform scholarly communication for the 21st century. This entails the preservation and migration of past issues to a new open-access, technologically sustainable platform as well as the publication of new issues in fully bilingual video and text articles. The articles will be presented on the Michigan Publishing Services journals platform, integrated with the fully accessible open source media player, Able Player. By combining this software with Michigan Publishing’s Fulcrum platform, the project ensures the articles are presented in a discoverable, accessible, and citable form that supports additional source materials and interactive features.

The accessibility-related development of the journal includes reducing the amount of English text and negative space visible on each article page and syncing the sign-language videos with their corresponding slideshows and English translations. It also entails allowing users to select their desired combination of those elements and providing users the opportunity to navigate within the video by clicking on the desired text in the English translation.

“DSDJ is a really exciting addition to our journals program,” says Jason Colman, Director of Michigan Publishing Services. “Not only does it further our mission to increase the reach of scholarship from communities that are not well served by existing publishing models, but building the technological integrations behind the journal taught us a lot about making our journal content more accessible for both deaf and hearing readers. We’re proud to be making DSDJ part of the durable scholarly record.”

This new platform for DSDJ furthers Michigan Publishing’s diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility efforts. Michigan Publishing has long strived to create a more accessible academic community. In addition to existing DEIA initiatives at Michigan Publishing, this DSDJ revamp will benefit those who wish to interact with scholarly work in new and innovative ways.

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