Josh Swiller speaks during Disabilities Awareness Month

In recognition of October as Disabilities Awareness Month, Penn State University Libraries are hosting a panel discussion, “What is big “D” and small “d” deaf culture,” on Wednesday, October 16, 2–3 p.m., and a presentation by Josh Swiller, “A Memoir of Deafness,” on Thursday, October 17, 7–8:30 p.m., followed by a Q&A session. Both events are in Foster Auditorium, 102 Paterno Library, and will be facilitated by interpreters, with captioning. The October 17 presentation will also be available at

Swiller, deaf since the age of 4 and recently returned to hearing through a computer implanted in his skull, is the author of “The Unheard: a Memoir of Deafness and Africa,” a story about his growing up deaf and living for two years in a rural African village. A New York Times best seller, it has been optioned for a movie. He has been lauded for his compassion, humor and literary skill.

In his quest to find his place and purpose in the world, Swiller has been a hospice worker, a Peace Corps volunteer, a forest ranger, a sheepskin craftsman, a Zen monk among other things. Currently, Swiller works at Gallaudet University and is leading the effort to secure more attention, care and understanding for the tens of thousands of young veterans returning from service in Iraq and Afghanistan with severe hearing loss.

Swiller will be joined in the panel discussion by:

  • Leah Murphy, a clinical psychology Ph.D. candidate, who led a $10 million research project on deaf education that took her to more than 30 schools for the deaf in 25 states.


  • Dr. Joseph Valente, assistant professor of early childhood education at Penn State and author of the autobiographical-novel and autoethnography “d/Deaf and d/Dumb: A Portrait of a Deaf Kid as a Young Superhero.”
  • Judy Creuz, instructor, Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, with research interests in vestibular disorders, noise-induced hearing loss, tinnitus and adult hearing aid fittings.

The events are sponsored by the Office of the Vice Provost for Educational Equity and the University Libraries.

For more information or if you anticipate needing accessibility accommodations or have questions about the physical access provided, please contact Susan Hayya at or 814-865-0284, during normal business hours.