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Genie Gertz
Dean of the Deaf Studies Division, Ohlone College

A native of St. Petersburg (known as Leningrad during the Soviet era), Genie Gertz (known popularly as “GG”) emigrated to the United States with her family when she was 8, and grew up in New York. She’s fluent in Russian Sign Language, ASL, Russian, and English. “I am the only deaf person in my family and do not have any siblings. I attended Lexington School but did not graduate from Lexington. My family settled in New York City and have lived there ever since.”

Photo courtesy of Ohlone College/Deaf Studies Division

Gertz earned her Bachelor’s in Communication at Gallaudet University (1992), her Master’s in Human Resource Management in Higher Education at New York University, and her Ph.D. in Social Sciences and Comparative Education with a focus on Cultural, Racial and Ethnic Studies from UCLA.

Her dissertation focused on dysconscious audism, which she defines as “a form of audism that tacitly accepts dominant hearing norms and privileges. It is not the absence of consciousness but an impaired consciousness or distorted way of thinking about Deaf consciousness.” In other words, a deaf person’s internalizing audism—the prejudicial assumption that to be deaf is to be inferior to hearing people—in belief, attitude, and behavior . . . the negative, destructive, anti-Deaf attitudes promoted by audists becoming absorbed and reflected by deaf people themselves.

For those unfamiliar with the term, audism (paralleling racism and sexism) was coined by Tom Humphries in 1975, and Gertz borrowed the term dysconscious from Joyce King’s dysconscious racism, but the phrase is her own, and has been catching on in the Deaf community.)

She has presented “Dysconscious Audism: The Conceptual Incarceration of Deaf People in a Hegemonically Hearing-Oriented Culture” at Deaf Way II (2002), at the Deaf Studies Conference in Utah (2004), at Gallaudet University, NAD, and several other places. “I have also published a chapter [Dysconscious Audism: a Theoretical Proposition”] in Open Your Eyes: Deaf Studies Talking (2008).”

She was a program coordinator for the Los Angeles Deafestival, among other programs she has helped run. “I have also served on boards for Deaf Women United, the NAD as the Region IV NAD Board Member, and served as a coordinator of the ‘Deaf Women Experts’ group for World Federation of the Deaf, and was program chair for the Los Angeles Chapter of American Sign Language Teachers Association.”

In 1995, Gertz began working in CSUN’s Department of Deaf Studies as a full-time lecturer and, until 2008, as an Associate Professor. On September 2, 2008, she officially began work as Dean of Ohlone College’s Deaf Studies Division. Her current research focuses on the social, cultural, linguistic, and educational factors that impede and weaken Deaf people’s development of Deaf consciousness and identity.

Gertz is married to Deaf scholar and researcher Patrick Boudreault of University of San Francisco. She enjoys traveling across the world, with a particular interest in seeing how Deaf people fare in different nations and cultures.

 

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