he MacArthur Fellowship Genius Grants were announced a few days ago. For those of you who don’t know what this is, the John D. and Catherine T. Macarthur foundation gives $500,000.00 to 20-40 Americans who “show exceptional merit and promise for continued and enhanced creative work.” These Americans can be in any field and they can spend the money on whatever they feel like, no strings attached.
This year Carol Padden was one of the recipients! Carol and her husband, Tom Humphries, wrote several books about Deaf Culture, including “Deaf in America: voices from a culture”, “Inside Deaf Culture”, and two textbooks for learning American Sign Language. I have read many of her books and consider them some of the best I’ve ever read on the subject of Deaf Culture.
Carol was born Deaf to her two Deaf parents and she also has a Deaf brother. She attended a Deaf elementary school for a time before being put into a mainstream school. Currently, Carol is a professor at University of California San Diego and studies signed languages. She recently studied a new signed language in Africa that uses the actual body of the signer to indicate pronouns, as opposed to the area around the signer as in American Sign Language.
Carol is the first ever Deaf recipient of the Genius Grant. She says she has no concrete plans for the money yet, but will probably use it for creative research. “Maybe I have a few wild ideas I’ve been obsessing about,” she said in an interview “But they’re a little bit crazy. I’m not going to tell you about them until I can make them sound a little more rational.”
Not only am I excited that the field of Sign linguistics has gotten such amazing recognition, it couldn’t have happened to a nicer person. Congratulations Carol Padden!!!