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                            University of St. Thomas, Minnesota
UST Research Online
	2011
Exploring the Lived Experiences of Deaf Entrepreneurs and Business Owners
	W. Scot Atkins
		Recommended Citation
Interpretative Research Proposal
                        
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Page 1

University of St. Thomas, Minnesota
UST Research Online
Education Doctoral Dissertations in Organization
Development

School of Education

2011

Exploring the Lived Experiences of Deaf
Entrepreneurs and Business Owners
W. Scot Atkins
University of St. Thomas, Minnesota

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Atkins, W. Scot, "Exploring the Lived Experiences of Deaf Entrepreneurs and Business Owners" (2011). Education Doctoral
Dissertations in Organization Development. 1.
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Page 84

LIVED EXPERIENCES OF DEAF ENTREPRENEURS, 74







Paul, who started up his business in 1985, also discussed his viewpoint as a deaf person

capabilities. He also

emphasized that this is what other people who are in minority groups deal with.

I am deaf, but so what? ber of a minority deals with. You can do

it to open new doors or to open doors for yourself, to make lives better for other deaf

people. I would rather see that people be measured based on their capabilities, not by the

color of their skin, or their disability. Try to be measured for what you can do. Just

I. King





Paul further discussed while this was the case, it was also important for him to show the

running his enterprise. This was his identity and he wanted to make sure that people were aware

of his identity as a deaf person and he compared his situation to what other minority group

members faced.

The reason I signed and spoke at the same time was to let the world know that I am deaf,

but it was never going to stop me! I always felt that the deaf history paralleled that of

black history, in terms of trying to break through with civil rights. There are simply

that deaf people can do certain things. I have bumped into some of those people. Their

attitude was how can a deaf person be better than them? Well, I can be better! I carry

that and I represent the deaf world all of the time. (Paul)



Samuel talked about how the emergence of new technology such as video relay services

has helped other people view him as a business owner first, rather than as a deaf business owner.

I think video relay services helped a lot since I am hiding myself, I am not showing

I am Samuel and they look at Samuel, business owner first

and I can deliver my goods.





Greg, upon deep reflection of his role as a deaf person, indicated that although he grew

up in a deaf family, went to schools for the deaf, a college for the deaf, was considered a full-

fledged member of the deaf community, as an entrepreneur, he has dissociated himself from his

Page 85

LIVED EXPERIENCES OF DEAF ENTREPRENEURS, 75







identity as a culturally deaf person. He rationalized that he is doing the deaf community a favor

by doing that.



nk, by

simply, being not deaf. I try to disassociate myself from the deaf community I guess. I

have no tethers or anchors by expectations, values, customs, and the traditions, of the

deaf community. I free myself from all of that, cut myself off and just keep going.

Ironically, I do the deaf community a favor by doing that. The _______ newspaper did a

full page article on our company. We were in a well known _______ magazine and they

asked us about our deafness. I explained that we work with interpreters to help those



people. I tell them I have a deaf family, I grew up at a school for the deaf, and I

emphasized a lot of key themes that really make the deaf community look really good. I

use that medium to expose the people out there. For example, I know that many

politicians and corporate owners read those publications for recreational purposes. They





Samantha reflected on her desire to show her identity as a deaf person and what she

would like to show the hearing community. She offered that she would like to show hearing

people that deaf people are just like them.

I would like to show the world that deaf people are just like the rest of us and to show

that we need the hearing community too. I would like to bridge the gap between the

hearing and deaf communities.

We are already a part of them; they are already a part of us. At what level do we

intertwine? (Samantha)



Rick told of having to make decisions as a founder/CEO of his business and he explains

that sometimes he forgets that he is a deaf person himself and gets caught in a role between what

he has to do as a CEO and as a deaf person. He explained that because his company focuses on

the deaf community, that he runs into this particular dilemma.

One other thing I want to mention is that sometimes as a deaf CEO, that often sometimes

I forget that I am a deaf person myself. Sometimes I am caught between the role of what

you need to do as a CEO and what I need to do as a deaf person. For example, as part of

business practice, you need to do what is appropriate to run a company, but at the same

time as a deaf person, I feel with the (deaf) community. I feel with the consumers and

sometimes I have a hard time to separate myself as a deaf person and as a business person

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LIVED EXPERIENCES OF DEAF ENTREPRENEURS, 158







The records of this study will be kept confidential. In any sort of report I publish, I will not

include information that will make it possible to identify you in any way. The video recorded

data will be destroyed after three (3) years of completion of study. Targeted date is May 30,

2014. All other de-identified data will be kept indefinitely.

Voluntary Nature of the Study:

Your participation in this study is entirely voluntary. Your decision whether or not to participate

will not affect your current or future relations with the National Deaf Business Institute or the

University of St. Thomas. If you decide to participate, you are free to withdraw at any time.

After you have agreed to the interview and your interview has been recorded, the data will be

used in the study. You are also free to skip any questions I may ask.

Contacts and Questions

My name is Scot Atkins. You may ask any questions you have now. If you have questions later,

you may contact me at 585-286-5314 (VP/Voice). You may also contact my advisor Eleni Roulis

at 651-962-5341. You may also contact the University of St. Thomas Institutional Review Board

at 651-962-5341 with any questions or concerns. You will be given a copy of this form to keep

for your records.

Statement of Consent:

I have read the above information. My questions have been answered to my satisfaction. I

consent to participate in the study. I am at least 18 years of age. I understand that my interviews

will be video recorded and transcribed.

______________________________ ________________

Signature of Study Participant Date

______________________________________

Print Name of Study Participant

______________________________ ________________

Signature of Researcher Date

Page 169

LIVED EXPERIENCES OF DEAF ENTREPRENEURS, 159







Appendix D: Semi-Structured Interview Guide



Starter Questions: A Study into the Lived Experiences of Deaf Entrepreneurs/Business

Owners

W. Scot Atkins



Thank you for agreeing to be part of this study! There is very little data regarding the experience

of deaf entrepreneurs/business owners. The goal for this study is to generate new knowledge in

this area. The goal is not to generalize, but to identify key themes that could be explored in future

studies. The interviewer will start off by verifying some general demographic information, such

as how long you have been an entrepreneur, age, type of business, family status, etc. The

interviewer will also be asking you to provide a pseudonym to protect your identity in the

research study. These questions are meant to be starter questions and to start a conversation

about your experience as a deaf entrepreneur. Additional follow up questions may be asked to

get a full picture of your experiences. The goal is to obtain as much rich, descriptive data as





Primary Question:



Tell me in detail about your experience as a





Possible Additional Questions:



Tell me about how your experience in starting your business. Tell me about the reasons
for starting this business in the first place.

Tell me about the joys of being a deaf entrepreneur. Tell me about some examples that
best describe this experience.

How did you learn to do what you are doing now?
Tell me about the challenges and the barriers of being a deaf entrepreneur. Tell me some

stories that best describe this experience.

What has helped you in your journey as an entrepreneur?
What kind of interaction do you have with your customers, employees, suppliers, vendors

and other stakeholders?

?


in your role? Tell a story that describes this experience.



The interviewer will ask you if you have any additional comments or questions. If there are none,

the interviewer will give you a brief summary of the discussion and reiterate the confidential

nature of this study and explain the next steps in this process.



An opportunity will be given to review any preliminary transcripts for accuracy of information.

You will not be able to change your responses except for those that need to be corrected for

accuracy.

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