Annelies Kusters- The first deaf professor at Heriot-Watt University:

Professor Kusters has become the first academic in her field of study in the UK to reach the title of full professor. Annelies, who is a professor at the Edinburgh university, Heriot-Watt is a professor in the field of Deaf Studies. Professor Kusters has a wealth of knowledge in this field, having studied deaf communities around the world for almost 20 years.

Professor Kusters will be sharing her knowledge as she joins the Department of Languages and Intercultural Studies as a Professor in Sign Language and Intercultural Research. While Europe and the United States have some deaf Professors in Deaf Studies and Sign Language Studies, the UK has only 10 to 15 hearing people who are full Professors in these fields, Professor Kusters said. Kusters highlights that she primarily focuses on the day-to-day lives of deaf people, rather than a focus on linguistics and genetics.

Kusters has been able to observe the lives of many deaf people from differing countries including, Ghana, India, Surinam, Brazil, Kenya, Italy, Denmark, and France.  Kusters is not only a professor, but she also leads SIGNS@HWU. The group consists of researchers at Heriot-Watt University. They focus on Deaf Studies, sign linguistics and sign language interpreting studies. Heriot-Watt University houses the largest number of Deaf Studies researchers in a single institute in all of Europe and the UK. Indeed, this is a fact I’m sure many are unaware of.

The Chair of Intercultural Communication and Associate Principal for Research Culture and People, Professor Jemina Napier stated that:

“Heriot-Watt University is proud to have the first deaf full Professor in the UK. After almost 40 years of Deaf Studies research and teaching in universities in the UK, it is long overdue, as deaf scholars should be leading at the forefront of this discipline”.

“Prof Annelies Kusters is an exemplar of someone who fosters a vibrant and inclusive research culture within the SIGNS@HWU group with the various activities she organises and the support she provides to emerging deaf and hearing signing scholars in this niche field. We look forward to seeing how the SIGNS@HWU group can grow under her leadership to maintain and build on the existing international reputation.”

We wish Professor Kusters all the best at Heriot-Watt University, and we hope that Annelies is the first of many deaf professors to be.

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