Deaf Advocacy: Increasing Accessibility at Arts Venues in Brattleboro, Vermont

Degree Name

MA in Sustainable Development

First Advisor

Mary Gannon


The purpose of this research is to serve as a catalyst for change through raising awareness of Deaf accessibility to arts venues in Brattleboro, Vermont. By conducting qualitative structured face-to-face interviews with nine participants, the research questions were considered by Deaf, hearing allies, and managers of various arts venues. The primary question was, “How can hearing and Deaf work together to advocate for greater access to arts venues in the Brattleboro area as an example of social change?” The secondary questions were, “How can hearing be allies to Deaf in the Brattleboro community?” and “What methods for community organizing and advocacy will the alliance utilize to further their goal of making arts venues in Brattleboro more accessible to the Deaf community?”

Some conclusions drawn from the research are: Not all people readily see the need, ethical or economic benefit, of Deaf accessibility; yet, a single conversation can be a catalyst for change. A conversation is not always enough to stimulate sustainable social change; it takes continual effort and people-power to create change. Additionally, it is important for an ally to understanding the power dynamic between hearing and Deaf, and to stay connected to the Deaf community to help advance Deaf civil rights. It takes bilateral respect to defuse the us-them dichotomy.

This research is valuable to individuals or groups working in the fields of community organizing, advocacy, social change, and specifically Deaf civil rights and accessibility to the arts. I hope this research will assist a Brattleboro Deaf and hearing alliance, proprietors of arts venues working towards being ADA compliant, and serve as a case study for other advocates of social justice.


Politics and Social Change | Regional Sociology

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