Program Description

The Global Leadership in Deaf-Centered Disability-Inclusive Disaster Risk Reduction (DiDRR) & Emergency Planning Graduate certificate program, colloquially known as the Disaster and Emergency Planning (DEP) Graduate certificate program, is an interdisciplinary program that trains deaf, hard-of-hearing, deaf-disabled, and signed language community members for key community-level and professional roles in Disability inclusive Disaster Risk Reduction and emergency planning. This program is offered at the graduate level as a Graduate certificate and at the undergraduate level as a minor. Preparing students to be competent and ethical advocates, leaders, and designers of disaster and emergency planning, the overarching Graduate certificate program mission is to advance: 1) deaf people’s action, decision-making, participation, and leadership in all phases of disaster and emergency work, and 2) evidence-based understanding of particular country contexts, cultures and languages, for policy-making and resource-development across the different levels of disaster and emergency planning. The Graduate certificate program accomplishes this mission through the following activities:

  1. Theories, methods, and strategies of Deaf-centered Disability inclusive Disaster Risk Reduction (DiDRR).
  2. Analysis of international and national DiDRR policies and policy development for political engagement, advocacy, planning, and reporting processes.
  3. Collaborative project design and program development for DiDRR and emergency planning that build on local deaf cultures and signed languages as valuable knowledge and leadership resources.
  4. Applying data on relationships between global climate change, disasters, and human adaptation and resilience for deaf community health and well-being.
  5. Engagement in interdisciplinary field experiences with deaf organizational and professional partners in DiDRR and emergency planning, mitigation, response, or recovery.
The DEP program specializes in the roles of deaf people and signed languages in preparing for and recovery from disaster and emergency events. As the first university-level program of its kind, the DEP program is unique in offering both academic and hands-on training. DEP coursework and community collaboration activities also serve as an incubator for innovation and for research in the Disability-inclusive Disaster Risk Reduction space. The DEP Graduate certificate is an 18-credit program comprising four core courses and two elective courses (see table below). Coursework begins in the summer with face-to-face activities taking place on Gallaudet University’s campus with disaster emergency partners in the Washington, DC area. This is followed by four courses conducted online during the fall and spring semesters. The program concludes with a Summer Institute hosted in collaboration with deaf community partners in a disaster-impacted setting in a US territory or other country. Courses will be conducted in American Sign Language.

Graduate Certificate Program of Study

Summer I
Summer II


DEP-601 Foundations Course IDP-775 Project Design & Implementation for Social Change IDP-774 Program Development, Monitoring & Evaluation for Social Change DEP-602 Summer Institute

Choice of one course in Fall and Spring semester

MPA-795 Social Equity in Public Administration

PHS-202/595 Foundations of Environmental Health

SWK-713-OL Issues in Human Behavior & the Social Environment
DAS-532 Geographic Information Systems

PHS-301/595 Behavioral Health Interventions

SWK-795/495 Trauma & Resiliency with Deaf Communities

SWK-715-OL2 Disability Policy: Implications for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Populations

DEP Core Faculty and Staff:

Audrey C. Cooper, Ph.D.
International Development M.A. Program

Ted Horton-Billard, M.A.
DEP Adjunct

Maegan Shanks, M.A.
International Development M.A. Program

Emily Shaw, Ph.D.
Department of Interpretation and Translation

Caroline Solomon, Ph.D.
School of Science, Technology, Accessibility, Mathematics and Public Health (STAMP)

Hayley Stokar, Ph.D.
Department of Social Work

Kota Takayama, Ph.D.
Department of Social Work

Geoffrey Whitebread, Ph.D.
Master of Public Administration Program


The Global Alliance for Disaster Resource Acceleration (GADRA) and Gallaudet University hosted a three-part event series titled, “Deaf-Led Disaster Resilience”. Series description: Disability-inclusive Disaster Risk Reduction is a growing field of practice, yet deaf, deafblind, hard of hearing, and deaf-disabled people have been widely marginalized from everyday disaster communication, as well as disaster management training and leadership roles. GADRA and Gallaudet University are partnering on an event series to draw attention to, and open a set of conversations about, deaf people and disasters. The series includes a webinar on disaster action by deaf-led organizations, an expert panel on deaf leadership in international disaster policy, and interviews with deaf youth leaders about disaster action. Data, ideas, and experiences shared during the three events will be used to inform future initiatives and response efforts. Click here to learn more about each event and to access the recordings.
Event 1: Deaf-Led Disaster Action (September 24, 2021)
Event 2: Deaf Leadership in International Disaster Policy (October 29, 2021)
Event 3: Deaf Youth Disaster Experiences & Action (November 22, 2021)