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David Smith

David Smith, PhD

Research Professor and Director of the Center on Deafness


David Smith is a research professor and director of the Center on Deafness at the University of Tennessee. Smith earned his PhD in special education from the University of Nebraska in 2003. He began his higher education career at Fresno State as a faculty member and director of the Deaf Education program.  He came to the University of Tennessee as a center director and faculty within the deafness focus team in August 2011, Smith also has been involved in a career as an educator of deaf and hard-of-hearing children that spans over more than 20 years in a variety of settings and age groups. He brings his experience as a deaf individual, program leader, and grant writer to the Center on Deafness with great enthusiasm.

Professor Smith has taught coursework in a variety of deaf education topics including curriculum and content methods, language development, parent education, assessment, American Sign Language, deaf culture, and deaf literature. He has expertise in developing courses for online instruction in higher education.


Professional Background


Smith’s research interests are primarily classroom-related in the areas of teacher expectations on the performance of deaf children, American Sign Language use in classrooms by teachers of the deaf, and cultural practices of deaf adults in the education of deaf children, STEM education, and the evaluation of American Sign Language skills.


Doctor of Philosophy (Psychological and Cultural Studies) The University of Nebraska, Lincoln, NE

Master of Science (Deaf Education) University of Rochester, Rochester, NY

Bachelor of Science (Biology)  Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester, NY




Holcomb, T. H. & Smith, D. (Eds.) (June 2018) Deaf Eyes on Interpreting. Washington, DC: Gallaudet University Press.

Ogden, P. & Smith, D. (2016) The Silent Garden: Raising your deaf child (3rd ed.). Washington, DC: Gallaudet University Press.

Ogden, P. & Smith, D. (2017) El Jardin Silencioso: Criando a Su Hijo Sordo (3rd ed.) Washington, DC: Gallaudet University Press.  [Spanish translation of The Silent Garden]

 Selected chapters and articles

Smith, D., Davis, J., and Hoffman, D. (2020). L2 Sign Language Tests, Assessments, and Evaluation. In R. Rosen (Ed.) The Routledge Handbook of Sign Language Pedagogy. Abingdon, UK: Routledge.

Smith, D. and Ogden, P. (2018) Through the Eyes of Deaf Academics:  Interpreting in the Context of Higher Education. In T. Holcomb and D. Smith (Eds.) Deaf Eyes on Interpreting. Washington, DC: Gallaudet University Press.

Kuntze, M., Golos, D., Wolbers, K., O’Brien, C. & Smith D. (2016) School as a site for natural language learning. In M. Marshark, V. Lampropoulou, & K. Skordilis (Eds.) Educating deaf learners: Diverse ways, one goal. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Smith, D. (2016).  Sociolinguistics: Signing in the Classroom. In Boudreault, P., Gertz, G., Golson, J. (Eds.)  The Deaf Studies Encyclopedia. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications.

Smith, D., & Davis, J. (2014) Formative assessment for student progress and program improvement in sign languages L2 programs. In D. McKee, R. Rosen, & R. McKee (Eds.) Teaching and Learning of Signed Languages: International perspectives and practices.  Basingstoke, Hampshire, UK: Palgrave Macmillan.

Smith, D. & Andrews, J. (2015). Deaf and hard of hearing faculty in higher education: enhancing access, equity, policy, and practice. Disability & Society 30 (10), 1521-1536.

Smith D. (2013). Deaf adults: Retrospective narratives of school experiences and teacher expectations. Disability and Society 28(5), 674-686.

Smith, D. (December 2008). Giving the Spoon Back: Higher Teacher Expectations of Achievement for Students Who Are Deaf.  The Qualitative Report 13(4), 657-694.

Smith, D, & Ramsey, C. (2004). Classroom Discourse Practices of a Deaf Teacher Using American Sign Language. Sign Language Studies 5 (1), 39-62.

External Funding

March 2019: Roberts, D. (PI), Alexandre, G. (Co-PI), Smith, D. (Co-PI) National Science Foundation, Research Experiences for Undergraduates in collaboration with UTK Biochemistry Department($506,252)) NSF-13-452 Research experiences for Deaf Students in Systems Biology and Molecular Signaling- How Cells and Organisms make Decisions.

July 2018: Smith, D., Principal Investigator, Wolbers, K., Shahan, C., & LaCava, C. Co-PIs. U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs. Combined Priority for Personnel Preparation, CFDA 84.325K ($1,120,000 for 5 years) Tennessee Educational Interpreters and Deaf Education (TEIDE) Personnel Preparation Project.

October 2014: Smith, D., Principal Investigator, U.S. Department of Education, Rehabilitation Services Administration. ($993,409 for 5 years) CFDA 84.129B. Rehabilitation Long Term Training: Rehabilitation Counseling

October 2014: Dunn, P., Principal Investigator, Smith, D. Co-PI. U.S. Department of Education, Rehabilitation Services Administration. ($738,753 for 5 years). CFDA 84.129Q. Rehabilitation Long Term Training: Rehabilitation Counselors for the Deaf.

January 2014 -December 2018: Smith, D., Principal Investigator, & Wolbers, K., Co-PI. U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs Grant Award H325K130223 Tennessee Education of the Deaf (TENNEDDE) Personnel Preparation Project ($1,250,000 for five years).

David Smith

Contact Information

  • A213 Jane & David Bailey Education Complex, 1126 Volunteer Boulevard, Knoxville, TN 37996
  • Phone: 865-329-7530
  • E-mail: