“Washington Post Deaf Printers,” a digital exhibit created by Gallaudet’s Schuchman Deaf Documentary Center, received the 2023 Mason Multi-Media Award from the Oral History Association at its annual meeting in Baltimore on Oct. 19.

Part of the Schuchman Center’s Deaf Printers Project, the exhibit shares the story of the tight-knit community of deaf employees at The Washington Post through the latter part of the 20th century. It also explores why nearly a quarter of the paper’s printing staff was deaf, and how changing technology eventually pushed them out. The narrative unfolds in a unique bilingual structure combining English text with ASL interviews, explains project manager Dr. Jannelle Legg, Assistant Professor in History. “This is unusual for a project of this size and reflects a commitment from our team to tell these stories authentically,” she says. 

A group of retired deaf printers who had recorded interviews at conferences and reunions brought the project to the Schuchman Center in 2019. These printers — Janie Golightly, Mike Golightly, Jan DeLap, Penny Herbold, David Herbold, and Dick Moore — served as an advisory group throughout the multi-year endeavor, which required extensive research, planning, and production by the Schuchman Center staff as well as several Gallaudet students. “From scanning images and developing metadata, conducting, filming, and editing interviews, to building an exhibit, this was no small undertaking,” Legg says. “It is gratifying to have that labor acknowledged through this award.”

The Oral History Association established the Mason Multi-Media Awards to recognize outstanding projects that use oral history in imaginative and effective ways. “Washington Post Deaf Printers” not only spotlights the compelling story of one workplace, but also helps its audience understand the significance of printing to deaf people in major cities across the country, Legg says.

Plus, the exhibit stands out for its innovative approach to capturing deaf oral history. The Schuchman Center team developed a set of best practices for lighting and framing signing subjects in interviews and a translation procedure for creating English transcriptions of each ASL interview. Legg believes these advances can shape the future of the field.

“I hope that this project will encourage the inclusion of deaf participants in oral history projects and greater consideration of deaf people as storytellers in the oral tradition,” she says. “There are rich stories embedded within our communities and I hope this project inspires others to undertake the opportunity to share them.”

Dr. Brian Greenwald, Director of the Schuchman Center, adds, “This work is part of the legacy left by both Drs. John “Stan” and Betty J. Schuchman to preserve deaf histories and to educate both students, and the community beyond.”

To view the “Washington Post Deaf Printers” exhibit, visit .

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