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The Deaf Community’s Guide to Blogging

An Interview with Jill Bradbury

February 6th, 2007 by

She may not currently have a blog or vlog of her own, but this didn’t stop Jill Bradbury from organizing the very first Vlogging/Blogging the Future of Gallaudet Conference, which took place last week at Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C.


Q: What inspired you to host this conference?

JB: The protests last fall were a very emotional and stressful time for us at Gallaudet. It was hard to have balanced discussions about the issues on campus. But, when I was reading blogs and watching vlogs, I was struck by the high level of discussion – especially on I thought, why not bring that conversation here to Gallaudet? So, I started contacting different bloggers/vloggers to see if they were interested and things just took off from there. I got a lot of really great ideas and feedback from many of the people who participated in the conference.

Q: How much time and planning went into the conference?

JB: A lot! I think a conference organizer will usually start planning a year in advance, so I threw this together really fast. I first started putting out feelers about the conference towards the end of October, but really started organizing in November. I had to cram a lot of work into the month before and after Gallaudet’s winter break, because the campus basically shuts down during that period.

Q: What kind of criteria did you use to select which bloggers to invite?

JB: I asked people to attend whose blogs/vlogs had insightful and proactive ideas about the issues our community is struggling with. Another important criterion was whether their blogs/vlogs show respect for commentors and encourage civil dialogue. It was also very important to me that the panels reflect diversity in the deaf community. Some people criticized my decision to invite people who are more commentors than bloggers/vloggers. But, one of the great things about vlogging/blogging is the interaction it encourages between author and audience. People visit blogsites and vlogsites as much for the comments as for the blog/vlog. So, why shouldn’t we recognize the contributions of the blog/vlog audience?

Q: How many people attended the conference?

JB: I think there were about 40-50 people at the conference, but around 500 people visited the C2I web page during the webcast. We’ll know the exact number later this week.

Q: Did the conference meet your expectations?

JB: My primary goal was to create a forum where Gallaudet faculty, staff, and students could discuss some of the issues that came out of the protests. However, not many people from Gallaudet actually attended. So, I was disappointed in that. I need to assess what I could do differently next time to draw more of a “home crowd.” But, the conference definitely surpassed my expectation in terms of the webcast and how it was received by the deaf community in general. I’m really gratified that so many people watched it and enjoyed it. People in Sweden, France, and the UK posted messages saying they watched the webcast.

Q: What was one of the most challenging aspects of putting together the conference?

JB: Keeping on top of all of the details. With just me organizing the conference, it was a lot to manage. We did have one gaffe with the webcast, which was that the FCC captioning didn’t get posted on the C2I site. We got the link late Friday night, and I didn’t realize on Saturday that it hadn’t been posted.

Q: Do you have your own blog or vlog? Have you thought about setting one up if you don’t? What do (or would) you blog/vlog about?

JB: I never even read blogs before the protests. Now that the conference is over, I’m feeling inspired to start one! I’m thinking about setting up a blog about deaf education issues – maybe called “My Bi-Bi Adventures.” I would love to have a forum where teachers of the deaf from all over could exchange ideas and keep each other informed of new research.

Q: Do you think vlogging and blogging are a fad?

JB: Definitely not. As many people emphasized at the conference, vlogging/blogging offer so many potential benefits to deaf people.

Q: Tell us more about the Coalition for Critical Inquiry.

JB: I founded the Coalition during the protests. A lot of faculty and staff didn’t want to come out for or against the protests, but felt strongly that we needed to have public discussions about issues like faculty governance, board structure, diversity, admission standards, communication on campus, and so on. We wanted to make sure these concerns didn’t disappear when the protests ended. We also felt a need to model respectful and civil dialogue about controversial topics. Right now, about 10-15 faculty, staff, and students are planning events for this spring. You can get more information at

Q: Tell us a little more about your background. Where did you go to school, what you currently do?

JB: I’m originally from San Diego. I became hard of hearing when I was four due to meningitis. When I was 17, I became deaf. I went to the University of California, Irvine for undergrad, and Brown University for my MA/PhD. I took a year of ASL classes when I was 15, but I didn’t consistently study it until I was in grad school. I wasn’t immersed into a signing environment until I started working for NTID in 2001. Now, I’m an assistant professor in the English Department at Gallaudet.

Q: Is another blogger/vlogger conference in the works?

JB: People are talking about having one next year. I hope they start planning now. Fundraising will be a big issue if it is not connected to a university or school that can donate facilities, or technical and interpreter services.

Q: Anything else you’d like to add?

JB: I want to mention all the people at Gallaudet who supported the conference – the head of Academic Technology, the dean of the College of Liberal Arts, Sciences, and Technology, the chair of the English Department, the Provost’s Office, and the President’s Office all gave large contributions. The chairs of the Communications Studies and Deaf Studies departments, and the dean of the Graduate School also supported us financially.


Thanks for your time, Jill!

If you missed the conference or the live webcast, archived videos are available at the Coalition for Critical Inquiry’s website.

Posted in Interviews | 16 Comments »

16 Responses

  1. Mark Drolsbaugh Says:

    The webcast was awesome! I greatly appreciated it as my schedule didn’t allow me to be there in person. Big thanks to all who were involved. By all means, please do make this an annual event :)

  2. Patrick Says:

    Nice interview. I think Jill Bradbury rocks. I was sorry she got a lot of crap from one immature blogger. She stood strong and didn’t let it affect the conference. *hands waving in the air for Jill Bradbury*

  3. rjuio Says:

    That “immature blogger” was in fact one of the most influaintail bloggers of today.

    Its really shcoks me when I saw that he was not invited. He should have been invited. Ask yourself this question: Would a Banking conference would have been held without asking the Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board to appear? The “immuture” Blogger is THE leader of the Bloggers in the Deaf World-as evidence by his winning the Best Blogger Award recently. He really should have been invited.

  4. Carmen Henricks Says:

    I have to disagree with you. The blooger you’re referring to is nasty, he belittles people. People love reading trash that’s why he’s popular. Personally, I’m glad Professor Bradbury did not invite him. He’s a bad example of what a blogger should be. She used good judgement in who she chose to invite.

    As for winning the Best Blogger award, he won by 60%. That’s 40% who did not vote for him.

  5. GG Says:

    Congratulations Jill on your successful conference!

  6. Frank W. Says:

    Regardless, Ridor should have been invited. I cannot fathom how he wasnt invited. He may be rude at times but you simply cannot disregard his influence.
    Also, Luke Skywalker and Han Solo didnt get along at first. Later, they not only became friends, but Han got to sleep with Luke’s sister.
    I know it is a silly analogy, but the point is every one of you are in this together, fighting for all deaf folks and taking us into the next technological realm.

  7. human Says:

    Thanks for a wonderful workshop; I attended in my P.J’s and eating bagels and lox; I found the workshop educational..

  8. Brandeis Says:

    Thanks to those people who provided webcast for audience to watch. However, I loved these hot issues broght up at the conference. One thing bothered me was the issue had to do with ASL vs English. ASL and English are two separate languages and we shall not mix them together. The debate on ASL vs English might continues forever, eternally. Do we want that?

  9. jeez Says:

    Ricky was voted the most popular blogger, but his behavior was unacceptable. Jill Bradbury showed proper judgment when she selected bloggers who showed maturity and respect to others, even though when they disagreed. Not Ricky who attacks and belittles others.

  10. Doglover Says:

    Ridor may be the most popular or influential blogger in the Deaf community, but he’s hardly tactful or articulate…no, I’m not talking about his English usage. His entries are not substantial while other bloggers such as Berke Outspoken or Mike McDonnell usually pack MEAT or powwow in their entries. His entries at Deaf Olympics have been so boring and unentertaining lately. If he wants to be invited to the conference next year, he needs to really deliver a good blog that is thought-provoking or tickles our fancy. We don’t learn from a blog that insults or belittles people.

  11. Xenia Says:

    Insightful interview. I have more respect than ever for Jill.

    I wasn’t able to attend the conference but did watched the web cast. It was fun to see what certain bloggers/vloggers looked like.

    I’m amazed at Jill’s signing fluency. She looks like a native signer. I like her style, very clear and nice to watch.

    I was shocked when KoKonutpundits blogger decided to use his voice instead of signing. He graduated from Gally and can’t be bothered to use sign language? A Deaf person who know sign language but still prefers to use interpreter to talk to other Deaf? That’s very weird! Just my opinion.

  12. DT Says:

    Hey, now, y’all forgot one other compliment to extend to Ms. Bradbury: She’s cute! Lol! Carry on, carry on..

  13. MM Says:

    Jill was kind enough to respond to me regarding the access at the conference, and that was appreciated. If we take the conference as a whole, and to take to task the point, then yes inviting/including ALL those major players in the blog stakes should have been done, there is a tendency to approach these issues so that what is perceived as ‘negative’ content is not met head on.

    Just playing it down when, the blogger whose name no-one sniffily mentions (RIDOR !), was voted the best blogger recently, then this is Ostrich thinking. Deaf people exist who differ, who disagree, who think ‘establishments’ (Even deaf ones), are a dirty word, they WILL be heard despite being ignored at a conference, there is nothing you can do about it, in retrospect the conference HIGHLIGHTED this fact, the net means the ‘community’ has to be accepted, and to accept, what it is, warts and all… These people ARE very adept, very clever, able, and intelligent people too, can we afford to exclude them ? Could we anyway ? I wouldn’t want to.

  14. Mr. Sandman’s Sandbox » Gallaudet Conference: My Thoughts Says:

    [...] the conference, and took pictures of the panels and the presenters. Additionally, a post-conference interview with Jill Bradbury is posted at [...]

  15. RCpradamasterX Says:

    Hi all!!

    Great Idea!


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