Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Rehabilitation (PhD)

Degree Level



Rehabilitation, Human Resources and Communication Disorders


Brent T. Williams

Committee Member

Dan B. Kissinger

Second Committee Member

Felicia Lincoln


Social sciences, Health and environmental sciences, Education, Deaf, Deaf culture, Deaf workforce, Ethnography, Rehabilitation


This ethnographic study seeks to increase our understanding of the individual and shared experiences of five members of a Deaf United States Postal Service (USPS) collective employment cohort in regards to their early learning experiences, how these experiences led to collective employment, and how the collective employment opportunity led them to establish a new Strong Deaf Community in Houston. The data collected through semi structured interviews will be used to increase our understanding about how Strong Deaf Communities form, and what purpose they serve for grassroots members.

This study also seeks to shed light on why it is critical for the field of VR to understand the collective aspect of Deaf culture, given our current high rates of Deaf unemployment. It is hoped that this study leads to a reevaluation of how the grassroots Deaf American population is served. This study may also provide guidance toward developing new theoretical plans of action for current rehabilitation professionals seeking to mediate the high rates of Deaf unemployment seen in the body of rehabilitation research. This ethnographic study utilizes a purposeful sample of Deaf career postal employees from Houston, to develop an in-depth understanding of their experiences with collective employment and how their experiences led them to establish a new collective Strong Deaf Community in Houston. The purpose of this study is to develop understandings of how grassroots Deaf workers successfully navigate the world of work, and how the collective aspect of Deaf culture influences the process.