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These deaf business owners are about to create a ton of jobs for deaf people nationwide.
For Immediate Release: AMERICAN SOCIETY FOR DEAF CHILDREN ANNOUNCES SIGNING TIME’S RACHEL COLEMAN AS EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR Washington, D.C. - February 5, 2018 - The American Society for Deaf Children (ASDC), the oldest national non-profit organization providing resources to parents of deaf children, announced today that its board of directors has selected Rachel de Azevedo Coleman as the organization’s Executive Director. “After a nationwide search we are thrilled to have Rachel as our new Executive Director,” said Board President Avonne Brooker-Rutowski. “We are confident that Rachel’s experience raising a deaf child and giving her child access to both English and American Sign Language, her history of taking action to better her daughter’s life, and her passion for her work will bring ASDC to the next level.” “Rachel has gained a deep understanding of the importance in empowering parents to communicate and connect with their Deaf children through American Sign Language,” continued Mrs. Brooker-Rutowski. “Together we will advance our mission by empowering families with deaf children to reach their highest potential.” The selection of Coleman caps a six month nationwide search by the board for someone to lead with vision and direction. “ASDC has been a resource for me since 1997 and I am honored and excited to lead its growth,” said Mrs. Coleman. “I know the challenges parents raising deaf children face. It can be a daunting task to not only raise a child, but to learn a new language, become versed in cultural nuances, and incorporate a visual language system throughout your home and your life. I have spent my entire career developing real solutions for families like mine and I am eager to apply these skills at ASDC.” After learning that her 14 month old daughter was profoundly deaf, Coleman was told not to have high expectations for her child. Coleman refused to accept that answer and for the past 20 years has been influential in creating a world where, through sign language, children can communicate their needs and be fully understood regardless of their abilities. Coleman is the Emmy Award nominated host, and co-creator of “Signing Time!”, the public television show and DVD series that teaches basic American Sign Language vocabulary to families in an engaging and musical way. The series has been broadcast to millions of viewers through such platforms as PBS stations, Netflix, Nick Jr., and mysigningtime.com. “Through “Signing Time!” she brought American Sign Language to the masses, but most importantly, to the communities that surround Deaf children,” said past Board President, Dr. Beth Benedict. “Her focus in this role will be creating national outreach programs to create greater awareness of ASDC, and to give families the tools and resources they need to raise successful Deaf children.” Coleman’s production company, Azevedo Studios, and her YouTube production company, SKYVIBE will continue to create educational and value based children’s programming such as Rachel & the Treeschoolers and FuntasticTV. The SKYVIBE network garnered 1.8 Billion views in the last 12 months. In 2015 Coleman launched mydeafchild.org providing an innovative online American Sign Language curriculum, free of charge, to parents living within the U.S., raising deaf children ages 36 months and under. To date she has raised more than $1.5 Million dollars to produce and create content, curriculum, and additional resources for families raising deaf children. American Society for Deaf Children (ASDC) American Society for Deaf Children (ASDC) is the oldest national non-profit organization founded by and governed by parents of children who are deaf and hard of hearing. ASDC was founded in 1967 as a parent-helping-parent organization. For the past 50 years ASDC has provided support, encouragement, and information to families raising children who are deaf. Offerings include American Sign Language Learning Opportunities for parents and caregivers to improve ASL proficiency and Annual Family Conferences. The 26th Annual Family Conference takes place June 21-23, 2018 in Salt Lake City, Utah and features keynote presenters Roberta “Bobbi” Cordano, President of Gallaudet University and Nyle DiMarco, winner of “Dancing with the Stars” and “America’s Next Top Model.” For more information visit deafchildren.org. For more information contact: Lindsay Stephenson, SisterUp: Phone: 310.404.6284: Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
It's easy to forget how inaccessible our world is to anyone with limited vision or hearing. Even something as simple as watching a Facebook video is a challenge due to access barriers. Haben Girma is fighting to change that. Below is a transcript of Haben's interview so that it's accessible to everyone. Video: Haben sits on a couch Haben: Deaf-blindness is a rare disability, so most of the time I'm the first person in a certain situation. So I'm used to being a pioneer. Video: The first shot is Haben typing on a keyboard, and the second shot is Haben speaking at an event Title reads: Meet the Deaf-Blind Lawyer Fighting For People With Disabilities Video: Haben sits on a couch Haben: A lot of my friends know better than to tell me that I can't do something because that's actually encouragement to try to find a solution Video: In the first shot, Haben communicates via sign language with a student. In the next four shots, she surfs, dances, skis, and scales a building. Graphic: Haben Girma was born deaf-blind, meaning she has limited hearing and vision But that hasn't stopped her from surfing, dancing, skiing, and even scaling a building Video: Haben smiles Graphic: Growing up, Haben attended mainstream public schools and quickly learned to adapt Video: Haben sits on a couch, talking Haben: When I was in school, I had a teacher who trained me how to travel as a blind person Video: A bus drives down the street Haben: I remember one of the lessons, she intentionally had me miss my stop so that I could learn how to problem-solve when things go wrong Video: Haben works with a young student Graphic: But not all students are so lucky Video: Haben sits on a couch, talking Haben: Many students with disabilities don't have access to information when they're in school Video: Close-up of a hand reading Braille on a keyboard Haben: We need to make sure the schools have access to accessible technology, have access to qualified teachers who can provide training Video: In the first shot, Haben uses her Braille keyboard. In the second shot, a hearing aid is placed in a woman’s ear. Graphic: Thanks to assistive technology, deaf-blind individuals have various ways to communicate Video: Haben sits on a couch, talking. We see sporadic shots of her using her Braille keyboard. Haben: Deaf-blindness is a spectrum. There are people with limited vision and limited hearing, and we use a variety of different communication styles: sign language, print on palm. What I use primarily is a keyboard and digital Braille display — so people will type on a wireless keyboard, and I'll read in digital Braille. Video: President Barack Obama communicates with Haben via keyboard, and they shake hands Obama: Hi, Haben! Haben: Hello. It’s good to meet you! Video: Maxine, a German Shepherd, stands with Haben Graphic: Haben also has her trusty guide dog, Maxine, by her side Video: Haben stands outside in front of a leafy wall, talking Haben: Her job is to navigate around obstacles Video: Maxine guides Haben around a trailer hitch and then walks with her down a street Haben: I make the decisions, and she follows me Video: Image of Haben in a graduation gown speaking at a university, followed by an image of Haben paddleboarding across a body of water Graphic: Early on, Haben quickly learned to be her own biggest advocate Video: Haben sitting on a couch, talking Haben: When I was young, I had to teach people what I need, and that process helped me build up self-advocacy skills Video: People gather food at a cafeteria Haben: There was one incident when I was in college. The college cafeteria would provide menus only in print, and blind students couldn't access the menu. Video: Haben speaks at a TED Talk event Graphic: Haben asked the cafeteria manager to provide an accessible menu, but her request was brushed off Video: Haben sits on a couch, talking, followed by a shot of Haben on a laptop in the park, researching Haben: Later, I did research. I learned that I have a right to information, and I returned to the cafeteria manager and explained, "I'm actually not asking for favors. I'm asking you to comply with the Americans With Disabilities Act." Video: Time-lapse shots of people walking through a crowded street, a busy city intersection, and traffic on the freeway Graphic: The Americans With Disabilities Act, passed in 1990, prohibits discrimination based on disability in all areas of public life Source: ADA.gov Video: Haben sits on a couch, talking Haben: It changed the whole culture in the cafeteria. They started providing menus in accessible formats. And that taught me that if I advocate for myself, I change the community. Video: Haben, in a graduation gown, poses with her diploma at her graduation from Harvard Law School Graphic: That self-advocacy led her to become the first deaf-blind graduate of Harvard Law School Video: Haben sitting on the couch, talking Haben: Harvard told me, "We've never had a deaf-blind student before." And I told Harvard, "I've never been to Harvard Law School before." We didn't have all the answers, but we pioneered our way using assistive technology and high expectations. Video: Images of Haben meeting Bill Clinton and Barack Obama As a disability rights lawyer, Haben is devoted to breaking down societal barriers to people with all forms of disabilities Video: Haben sits on a couch, talking Haben: Disability is never the barrier. It's the environment that's the barrier. A lot of barriers right now are digital. Video: A woman types on a computer Haben: The vast majority of websites have access barriers Video: Haben sits on a couch, talking Haben: Sometimes I'm shopping online and the technology I use, a screen reader, can't figure out what's on the screen. That's a barrier. Video: Haben speaks at a conference, instructing the audience Haben: So what I do is provide training to teach organizations that if they make their technology accessible, they could reach more people, including people with disabilities. There are 57 million Americans with disabilities, and around the world there are 1.3 billion people with disabilities. Video: Haben and Maxine cross the street Haben: So let's focus on changing society and removing the barriers, rather than putting pressure on people with disabilities to change how they are Video: Images of Haben greeting people and shaking their hands Graphic: So what can nondisabled people do to encourage equal access? Video: Haben sits on a couch, talking Haben: Everybody plays a role in making our community more inclusive. Look around you. Video: A man in a wheelchair wheels himself down the street Haben: Are there barriers for wheelchair users? Video: 2 deaf women communicate via sign language Haben: Are there communication barriers for individuals who are deaf? Video: A woman reads Braille Haben: Are there print barriers for individuals who are blind? Video: Haben sits on a couch, talking Haben: Once you identify those barriers, look for ways to make them more inclusive Video: Haben greets 2 people with a smile Haben: We all have challenges in different forms, and it's beautiful to find solutions and make it through these challenges