Role Models as Facilitators of Social Capital for Deaf Individuals: A Research Synthesis


in a variety of contexts, deaf individuals often must navigate multiple societal, psychological, and physical barriers. It is frequently proposed that role models meet an important need for successful navigation in such contexts. This research synthesis explores available literature on role models for deaf individuals, drawing from social capital theory to conceptualize how individuals in social networks can facilitate the development of resources necessary for navigating various settings. Four key themes were identified, two being that role models (a) address a critical need and (b) contribute to important developmental processes. In addition, (c) key elements appear to be necessary for effective role modeling, and (d) multidimensional cultural affiliations are important considerations within the role model process. Though more research is needed, the findings suggest that role models play an important role in how deaf individuals build social capital.


Cawthon, S. W., Johnson, P. M., Garberoglio, C. L., & Schoffstall, S. J. (2016). Role models as facilitators of social capital for deaf individuals: A research synthesis. American Annals of the Deaf, 161(2), 115–127.