Disability Pride at AU: Tanya Miller

By AU Strategic Communications & Marketing | July 13, 2023
Disability Pride

Augustana understands the value and impact that historically marginalized people have on communities all over the world — recognizing that this university would not be the place it is without these students, faculty and staff. In the "At AU" series, the university aims to showcase these exceptional people so we can all hear their voices in an effort to foster positivity and create awareness of their experiences on campus.

For the month of July — Disability Pride Month — Augustana is featuring Tanya Miller, assistant professor of sign language interpreting within the Sharon Lust School of Education. Miller, who is deaf, teaches American Sign Language (ASL), Foundations in American Deaf Culture and interpreting courses. The Danville, California, native is also the advisor for Deaf Awareness — a student group focused on bridging the gap between Deaf and hearing communities.

Tanya MillerQ: Where or how did you hear about Augustana?

A: A former professor invited me to mentor interpreting students. I enjoyed it very much and decided I wanted to do this full time!

Q: What is/are the reason(s) you chose to come to Augustana?

A: Augie students are awesome. They’re respectful, engaged and help make this world a deaf-friendly place. I was impressed that Augie was so accommodating. I was asked to teach a course on Deaf culture in ASL and an interpreter was hired for each class. To me, this says Augustana recognizes that it’s worth the “extra” expense for me to teach the course in my native language and students benefit from taking a class taught by a deaf individual.  

Q: Do you have any other connections to Augustana?

A: I’ve worked here since 2007, first as a lab assistant for the ASL Lab, and then working full time. I love it. 

Q: Is there anything you’re passionate about and/or activities you’re involved in outside of AU?

A: I love animals. I would own an animal sanctuary if I could.

Q: How would you describe your disability? What is it like to be a person with a disability at AU?

A: I’m deaf. My deafness is a big part of my identity. It feels odd when there is a biography about me and it doesn’t mention that I am deaf. It feels like I’m not being recognized for who I am — a deaf person who uses ASL as my main means of communication. Being deaf is not just using ASL, but there is a whole culture associated with it. I don’t feel “disabled” at Augustana. I’m fortunate enough to be able to use American Sign Language every day with my co-workers and students without getting stared at. I get a thrill out of seeing my students use ASL outside of the classrooms (like in the Madsen Center lobby) just because they can.  

Q: What does Disability Pride Month mean to you?

A: To me, Disability Pride Month means recognizing people’s differences and learning how people accomplish things differently. We should also recognize that some individuals have to work harder than others, and it is important to do what we can to make the world more accessible and inclusive to people with disabilities. Able-bodied people should stop and think about what they can do differently so that disabled people can be empowered to be independent.   

Q: What do you want others to know about your disability? 

A: Deaf people aren’t disabled when we are in the Deaf community using ASL. Deaf people feel disabled in an auditory world. Not everything has to be audible, it can be visual.  

Q:  Is there someone at Augustana or elsewhere who inspires you? If so, how?

A: I am inspired by International Sign (IS) language interpreters. They are able to visually communicate using International Signs (not ASL) that are understood by most deaf people all over the world. They are experts in using their face and body language to communicate with deaf people worldwide. It is amazing to watch.

To learn more about the "At AU Series," visit augie.edu/AtAU.

Share this Page