Professor James Woodward received his PhD with distinction in sociolinguistics from Georgetown University, Washington, D.C., USA, completing his dissertation on grammatical variation in American sign language. From 1969 to 1991, he worked at Gallaudet University in various positions related to the linguistic and anthropological analyses of sign languages and Deaf cultures.
From 1992-1995, Prof. Woodward also taught linguistics at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. From 1996 to 2000, he worked at Ratchasuda College, Mahidol University at Salaya, Thailand as Director of Research and as local director of the World Deaf Leadership Thailand Project – the first programme to train Deaf people to become professional teachers of Thai sign language. In 2000, he moved to Vietnam where he became director of the project on Opening University Education to Deaf People in Vietnam at the Dong Nai Provincial Department of Education and Training.
Since 2004, he has also been an Honorary Adjunct Professor in the Department of Linguistics and Modern Languages and Co-Director of the Centre for Sign Linguistics and Deaf Studies at CUHK. He has published on sign language sociolinguistics, universal and unique characteristics of sign languages, historical-comparative relationships of sign languages, and deaf education. His current research interests include historical-comparative relationships of sign languages and the description and documentation of endangered sign languages.