In 1983, Michael Rodda and Roger Carver had collaborated on a province-wide survey of programs and services for Deaf and hard of hearing individuals. The survey results pointed to a strong need for consolidation and networking among agencies, not only within Alberta but also across western Canada. A united effort by several provinces would have a better chance of expanding access to postsecondary programs.
With this in mind, Roger – who had joined Michael’s team on campus in 1984 – was delegated the responsibility of organizing a meeting of provincial reps from the four western provinces: British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. A positive response came from three: Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Alberta.
Spearheaded by Michael, a plan took shape, incorporating input from other postsecondary institutions, service agencies and government programs. The design was based on a sound principle: Bring together disparate western communities to work as a team on large projects of mutual interest. Once established, the centre would work with its counterparts elsewhere, exchanging information and ideas in a coordinated effort to provide guidance to postsecondary programs across western Canada.
In addition to playing a vital role in the development and operation of both WCCSD and the Peikoff Chair, Michael was also the driving force behind the U of A’s long-running Deafness Studies Education Program, and remained involved as a faculty member until his retirement.
Despite the challenges of limited finances during his term as director of the Centre, Dr. Rodda and his team made tremendous gains in lobbying for and supporting Deaf students – both international and Canadian – on campus. To his credit, the University of Alberta has seen both a growing awareness of deaf studies and a rise in the number of Deaf students.
Under Michael’s leadership, WCCSD’s early advocacy work and cooperative ventures with the Deaf community paved the way for later work and earned him the respect of the community. In honour of Michael’s commitment to raising awareness and developing supportive educational programs for Deaf students, the AAD set up a Michael Rodda Scholarship Fund to help support Deaf students pursuing studies at the U of A. Established in 1988, this scholarship fund is currently administered through Student Accessibility Services (SAS) at the University.
Dr. Rodda was the director of WCCDS from 1986 to July 2003.
Michael passed away on July 27, 2012. Upon his passing, the Edmonton Journal published an article about Dr. Rodda and his advocacy for the Deaf and hard of hearing. Please CLICK HERE to read the article.
In 2011, The Western Canadian Centre for Deaf Studies celebrated its 25th Anniversary.
WCCDS 25th Anniversary History (Monograph)
Alberta Association of the Deaf extends congratulations to Western Canadian Centre for Deaf Studies on its 25th anniversary. We acknowledge your many years of accomplishments toward betterment of Deaf and Hard of Hearing citizens’ lives through a platform of cutting-edge research….
—Grant Underschultz, President, Alberta Association of the Deaf
On behalf of the Calgary Association of the Deaf, we wish you congratulations on your 25th anniversary of the Western Canadian Centre for Studies in Deafness. To all the people who founded WCCSD… without your hard work, WCCSD would not have happened.
—Cindy Pilz, President, Calgary Association of the Deaf
It brings me great pleasure to congratulate WCCDS on their 25th anniversary on behalf of Lakeland College…. The supports, insights and experience of your organization [were] critical when Lakeland College was in the formative stages of curriculum and course development for the Sign Language and Deaf Studies and the Sign Language Interpretation programs….
—Jason Dewling, Associate Dean, Arts, Science, Business & Academic Services, Lakeland College
On behalf of the Alberta Cultural Society of the Deaf, please accept our congratulations on 25 years of service to both the hard of hearing and Deaf communities. We look forward to being able to work alongside WCCDS on future awareness projects.