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Dissertation Defense for Paul Silvasi

To: Students, Faculty and Staff

From: Gaurav Mathur, Ph.D., Dean of the Graduate School

Re: Dissertation Defense for Paul Silvasi

It is my pleasure to announce that Paul Silvasi, a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Psychology, will defend his dissertation on “Warnings that Fell on Deaf Ears: A Three-Pronged Analysis of Encounters between Deaf Individuals and Law Enforcement” on Friday, April 3 at 3 p.m. Eastern Time. The first forty minutes of the dissertation defense is open to the Gallaudet community via a live webinar. Register here to attend.

Mr. Silvasi’s study evaluates the nature of interaction experiences between deaf individuals and law enforcement officers and investigates how deafness influenced such interactions. Results found that the perceived influence of deafness significantly predicted one’s perceptions of procedural justice and coercion in interactions. Specifically, those who believed deafness contributed to a negative experience believed their interaction was unfair and they had limited control over what occurred, while those who believed their deafness contributed to a positive experience believed their interaction was fair, and they had control over what occurred. Qualitative portions of the study revealed that participants described significant fear and anxiety when interacting with the police that was attributed to concerns related to miscommunications or misunderstandings normative to a deaf/hearing interaction.

The members of Mr. Silvasi’s dissertation committee are Dr. Donna Morere, Department of Psychology, chair of the dissertation committee; Dr. Lawrence Pick, Department of Psychology; Dr. Patrick Brice, Department of Psychology (retired); Dr. Elizabeth Romero, Attention, Behavior & Cognition, LLC; and Dr. Tony Smith, Department of Criminal Justice, Rochester Institute of Technology.

Mr. Silvasi entered the Clinical Psychology Program at Gallaudet University in Fall 2013. He began his clinical training with Gallaudet’s Counseling and Psychological Services, providing intervention and assessment services for undergraduate students. He continued to develop his clinical intervention and assessment skills through experiences with DC Superior Courts, the Child Guidance Clinic, the Psychiatric Institute of Washington, and the Multicultural Clinical Center. He is currently completing a predoctoral internship at Utah State Hospital in Provo, Utah with a particular focus in forensic evaluations. With the support of the Graduate Student Research Travel Award, he traveled to the American Psychology-Law Society conference in New Orleans, Louisiana, to present on the topic of performing competency evaluations with Deaf and hard of hearing defendants. Mr. Silvasi has accepted a postdoctoral fellowship position with the Court Services department under the Colorado Department of Human Services, Office of Behavioral Health, where he will continue his training in forensic evaluations. 

Please join me in extending best wishes to Mr. Silvasi for his dissertation defense.

Posted by Elizabeth Gibbons | Posted March 29, 2020 at 1:06 PM


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Washington, DC 20002


800 Florida Avenue NE
Washington, DC 20002