#DeafSuccess: Dr. Carla García-Fernández, Assistant Professor

Nov 23, 2020

Dr. Carla Garcia-Fernandez is an assistant professor of deaf studies at California State University in Northridge. In her Deaf Success story, she recognizes her multiple intersecting identities as a #Latina woman and a #deaf person. She explains the impact that this #intersectionality can have on people’s lives and emphasizes the importance of having role models and building connections.

Full video description: https://tinyurl.com/y5eay2ss

Video Description:

Carla, an intersectional Deaf Mestiza cisgender female, sits in a lounge area amid grey couches and a dark table. A whiteboard is hung in the background. The NDC logo with the text #DeafSuccess is shown in the upper right corner.  Carla signs.


My parents’ primary language is Spanish. When I was enrolled at a school for the deaf, my teacher told my parents not to speak Spanish with me and that it would be better off for them to use English. This was because the teacher believed that if my parents spoke Spanish, it would have confused me with lipreading English. So technically, from that point on I lost my family’s primary language, Spanish. If I had been given an opportunity to learn Spanish, maybe I’d have had a much more intense Latina identity throughout my childhood.

I’ve had to work hard, fight and carve through life. I recently looked at my report cards and I saw that some of my teachers viewed me negatively. They felt that I would not succeed in life. I’m really grateful that my mom kept those report cards; they are a striking memory. I do wonder if I had a Latinx deaf role model who had truly encouraged me, would my life be any different?

Video Description:
Text appears: Carla García-Fernández, Assistant Professor.

Footage of Dr. Garcia signing, “as an individual.”

Now Carla is in the lounge. She signs.


I remember being first exposed to the term, “intersectionality,” …

Video Description:

Carla fingerspells “intersectionality,” then uses the two-handed sign, similar to the sign for “ball” but with fingers interlaced.


…at the University of Texas. It was during my graduate courses that I first came across that word. It was a moment of revelation to me. I realized the term really applied to my life experience, because it didn’t only focus on my singular identity as a deaf person, but… also focused on my multiple identities.

Intersectionality emphasizes the idea of two or more forms of discrimination happening at the same time. I do wonder if I was discriminated against because I am Deaf or because I am Latina? Separating one of my identities from another is impossible.

I think that discussing intersectionality should not start at the collegiate level. We should start at the kindergarten or elementary level, thus we can all have a rich understanding of ourselves.

I am currently an assistant professor at the California State University in Northridge. CSUN is well-known for having the first Chicano Studies department in the US. I always knew about the opportunity to make a connection there. I wondered about the potential for a connection between it and the Deaf Studies department as I felt it was vital to expand Latinx Deaf resources.

Video Description:

Text: #DeafSuccess

Dr. Fernandez is shown in slow motion, signing in front of a large projection of closed captions. She signs, “…thoughtful consideration to be inclusive…”

NDC Logo appears above text, black lettering on a white background: nationaldeafcenter.org

“This video was developed under a jointly-funded grant from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) and the Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) #HD326D160001. However, the contents do not necessarily represent the positions or policies of the federal government.”

Next to it, three logos appear. The first reads “IDEAs that Work” with an arrow drawing a circle from “IDEAs” to “Work” and the words “U.S. Office of Special Education Programs”. The second logo shows a red-and-blue star with text next to it that reads “TA&D”. The third logo shows a blue circle around a tree. In the blue circle are the words “U.S. DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION.”

Subtitles available in English and Spanish | Subtítulos disponibles en español y inglés

Watch more Deaf Success stories: https://tinyurl.com/y3gkhtjw

Learn more about intersectionality: https://tinyurl.com/y4l8qlfp

How to support deaf youth through mentoring and role models: https://www.nationaldea…/re…

Questions? Email us: [email protected]

Subscribe to the National Deaf Center YouTube channel for new videos that support and empower deaf youth to succeed after high school: click here.

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© National Deaf Center on Postsecondary Outcomes
Video licensed under Creative Commons BY-NC-ND 4.0 International

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Topic(s): #DeafSuccess
Type of Resource: Videos

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