Services // Deaf

Hard of HearingThe Arizona Commission for the Deaf and the Hard of Hearing has been committed to improving the quality of life for the Deaf for over 30 years! Services offered include, but are not limited to, Information and Referral, Empowerment, Community Development as well as Outreach and Education.

For over 15 years the Deaf Specialist, Beca Bailey has worked with the Deaf community in many different roles. Beca has been ACDHH Deaf Specialist since July 2004 serving over 50,000 Deaf Arizona residents (.9% of the population).

Information and Referral

The Commission maintains an extensive directory of resources and services available to the community. The directory is used to make referrals to assist consumers in need of information for employment, housing, education and much, much more.


By informing Deaf individuals about their rights and the laws and programs available to support those rights, they can become empowered as self-advocates. Advocates are available to act on behalf of consumers as needed.

Community Development

ACDHH works closely with community leaders to determine the resources available, and those that need to be expanded or created to better serve Deaf citizens in each region.

Outreach and Education

ACDHH provides valuable outreach and educational opportunities in local communities. The workshops and information sessions include but are not limited to: Deaf Culture, ADA and civil rights information; legal rights; employment issues and concerns; training for 9-1-1 trainers.

Beca Bailey and Sean Furman are available to answer your questions and provide assistance by email or VP. 

Beca Bailey can be reached at or by VP at 480-264-0189.

Sean Furman can be reached at  or by VP at 602-888-0720.

Deaf Specialists

April 2014

Deaf History Month:  March 13 - April 15

This March to April , ACDHH honors Deaf History Month by exploring the rich Deaf heritage and will highlight some keys historical events that celebrate Deaf History and increase awareness of our Deaf community.

This is a wonderful opportunity for ACDHH to recognize and celebrate Deaf individuals, culture, and heritage. At the same time, recognize the contributions of leaders and historical events that have greatly impacted the Deaf community.

Starting mid-March, we will be posting tidbits related to Deaf Culture, ASL, History, prominent figures, and so forth. ACDHH will also include videos to highlight Deaf people and events.  Please check out ACDHH website every week. Be sure to also check ACDHH's E-news and ACDHH FaceBook page. 



4/2:  Specialists will conduct a tour of ACDHH office for Phoenix College ASL/IPP students.

4/7:  Beca Bailey, Deaf Specialist and Vicki Thompson, AzTEDP Program Manager will provide a sensitivity training to Prescott Police Department staff.

4/8:  Beca Bailey, Deaf Specialist & Jennifer Hensley, Parent Educator will staff ACDHH booth at 2014 Transition Fair at Mountain View High School.

4/10:  Specialists will attend the bi-monthly Deaf Social Service Providers meeting.

4/11:  Deaf Specialists will provide the healthcare sensitivity training to:  Kingman Regional Medical Center staff.

4/12:  Specialists will staff ACDHH Booth at the Mohave County Special Needs Advocacy Coalition Resource Fair.

4/13:  Specialists will provide a Deaf Self-Advocacy Training to the Kingman/Lake Havasu City/Bullhead City Deaf community.

4/18:  Arizona Association of the Deaf General Meeting.  More details to come.

4/22:  Specialists will provide the healthcare sensitivity training to:  Mayo Clinic staff.






More details coming soon...keep an eye out!



Public Healthcare Services Survey

Calling all Deaf, Hard of Hearing, and DeafBlind Arizonans! We are currently researching effective communication in Arizona Hospitals. Please take five minutes to complete a short survey that will help us help you! The survey can be taken here: For an ASL version of the survey, watch the video below.



 Deaf History Month:  March 13 - 15



April 7-April 11:  Deaf Community Organizations 

Community Outreach Program for the Deaf (COPD)

COPD was established in 1973 as the result of grassroots efforts made by Deaf community members. Over the years, COPD has grown to meet the expanding needs of our clients, continually offering new programs and services. Now as part of CCS' Southwest Community Services, COPD is well into it's forth decade, serving hundreds of Deaf, Hard of Hearing, and Deaf-Blind persons each year. From the very beginning, COPD has maintained strong relationships with the Deaf and Hard of Hearing communities to help determine how we can best meet their needs. We pride ourselves on our strong relationship with these communities and value their guidance and support in creating new programs and services.


Valley Center for the Deaf (VCD)

Valley Center of the Deaf was established in 1978 by members of the Phoenix area Deaf community. Our initial focus was providing vocational and interpretation services for the Deaf, but since our founding, we have expanded to provide additional services to both the Deaf and hard of hearing communities. In 1982, we joined forces with Catholic Community Services of Southern Arizona in Tucson and its Community Outreach Program for the Deaf to better provide interpreting, telephone relay, and counseling services.

From the very beginning, our strong relationships with the Deaf, Deaf Blind and Hard of Hearing communities have enabled us to discover how best we can fill their needs. We pride ourselves on returning to these communities for guidance in creating new programs and services.

VCD is directed by an advisory board comprised of Deaf individuals in the community and others who have experience and interest in Deaf and hard of hearing needs and concerns.


Arizona Commission for the Deaf and the Hard of Hearing (ACDHH)

ACDHH was established in 1977 to improve the quality of life for Deaf and Hard of Hearing residents. ACDHH serves as a statewide information referral center for issues related to people with hearing loss.

ACDHH aspires to be a national leader in communication access, support services and community empowerment throughout the state. Our mission is to ensure, in partnership with the public and private sectors, accessibility for the Deaf, Hard of Hearing, Deaf-Blind, persons with speech difficulties, and their families to improve their quality of life.

Why does Arizona need ACDHH?

• Three out of 1000 newborns are diagnosed with hearing loss

• One out of 10 people experience hearing loss during their life

• One out of three senior citizens have hearing loss

• There are more than 700,000 Deaf and Hard of Hearing individuals throughout the state


ACDHH:  Deaf Awareness 2013 Spotlight Interviews (4 videos)


March 31 - April 4:  Deaf Education

Video - The Holcomb Family:  5 Generations in Deaf Education

American School for the Deaf – Connecticut

The oldest existing school for the deaf in America opened in Bennett's City Hotel on April 15, 1817. The school became the first recipient of state aid to education in America when the Connecticut General Assembly awarded its first annual grant to the school in 1819. When the United States Congress awarded the school a land grant in the Alabama Territory in 1820, it was the first instance of federal aid to elementary and secondary special education in the United States.

The impetus behind its founding was the fact that Alice Cogswell, the daughter of a wealthy local surgeon, was deafened in childhood by fever. Dr. Cogswell, One day, Gallaudet observed Alice's attempts to communicate with her siblings and the neighborhood children at play. Although not trained to teach deaf children, Gallaudet convincingly demonstrated that Alice could learn and should be afforded the opportunity to attend school.

Alice’s father prevailed upon the young Gallaudet (who had recently graduated from Yale University’s School of Divinity and had begun studying at Andover.)  Cogswell and nine other citizens decided that the known 84 deaf children in New England   needed appropriate facilities. However, competent teachers could not be found, so they sent Gallaudet in 1815 on a tour of Europe, where deaf education was a much more developed art. After being rebuffed by the Braidwoods, Gallaudet turned to the Parisian French schoolteachers of the famous school for the Deaf in Paris, where he successfully recruited Laurent Clerc.

Laurent Clerc worked closely with Gallaudet, but there was not sufficient time for Gallaudet to master all of the techniques and manual communication skills before his diminishing funds forced him to book return passage to America. Gallaudet prevailed on Sicard to allow Laurent Clerc to accompany him on the return trip to America to establish an American School. In the fifty-five days of the return voyage, Gallaudet learned the language of signs from Clerc, and Clerc learned English from Gallaudet.

On the strength of Clerc's reputation, the ASD was incorporated as the "American Asylum for Deaf-mutes" in May 1816. When it opened in 1817, there were seven students enrolled: Alice Cogswell, George Loring, Wilson Whiton, Abigail Dillingham, Otis Waters, John Brewster, and Nancy Orr. The original name of the school was: The Connecticut Asylum (at Hartford) for the Education and Instruction of Deaf and Dumb Persons.

Gallaudet was principal until 1830. His son followed in his legacy, establishing Gallaudet University, which followed the ASD's lead and taught students primarily in American Sign Language (derived from the methodical signs and Parisian sign language of the French Institute for the Deaf).

As a result of its pivotal role in American deaf history, it also hosts a museum containing numerous rare and old items. While it is situated on a 54-acre campus, the ASD has a small enrollment — in its history; more than four thousand alumni have claimed this historic school as their alma mater.


Arizona Schools for the Deaf and the Blind (ASDB)

Arizona’s first state legislature in 1912 enacted a provision forming the Arizona Schools for the Deaf and Blind. Henry C. White was the first principal, appointed by Governor George W. P. Hunt, and classes began in October, 1912. Nineteen children who were deaf or hard of hearing were the first students, and classes were held in a converted residence on the campus of the University of Arizona in Tucson. Over the years, the school continued to grow, eventually becoming a public corporation governed by a board of directors. Through modernization of the physical plant, growth of the curriculum, and expansion of learning opportunities, ASDB continues to lead the nation in serving students who are deaf, hard of hearing, blind, visually impaired or deaf blind in the state of Arizona. The Arizona State Schools for the Deaf and the Blind (ASDB) was established in 1912 as a department at the University of Arizona in Tucson.  The first home of the school was a converted residence on the University campus. The first building on East 2nd Street and Park Avenue near the University was the former residence of a professor.

A growing population soon made the facility inadequate and the search for new facilities began. In 1918 the City of Tucson donated fifty acres on West Speedway, and in 1919 eighteen additional acres were purchased.  Contracts were awarded in 1921 for the construction of four buildings: two dormitories, a kitchen and dining room, and a powerhouse.  No classrooms were included, so a wooden building had to be moved from the University and converted into classrooms.  Classes began on the West Speedway campus in October 1922.

The campus now has over twenty-five buildings, athletic recreational facilities with beautiful landscaping and well-maintained open areas. Students may attend classes from age 3 through 21.  The school colors are royal blue and white and the mascot is the Sentinel. For 100 years, ASDB has provided a well-rounded quality education through a variety of classes, sports, extracurricular activities, events and other programs for the students.  We are proud of the precious and rich heritage of ASDB!


Phoenix Day School for the Deaf (PDSD)

Phoenix Day School for the Deaf (PDSD) was established in 1967. PDSD is a division of the Arizona State Schools for the Deaf and the Blind.  PDSD has been providing quality educational programming for children who are deaf or hard of hearing for over 40 years within the metropolitan Phoenix area.  The school was originally established at the urging of Phoenix parents who wanted their children educated closer to home.  PDSD began in 1967 with 26 elementary students and 5 teachers. Today they have 370 students in Kindergarten through 12th grade and 90 faculty.  The high school department was established in 1979 with the first graduating class in 1983.  PDSD has been fully accredited by the North Central Association since 1982.

 The Phoenix Campus provides a full array of educational and support services to day students in Elementary, Middle School and High School. These services include counseling, communication instruction (American Sign Language, speech, auditory training, speech reading, augmentative communication, public speaking, reading intervention, pragmatics, and communicative competence), audiology, occupational and physical therapy, vocational training, career counseling and transition planning.

The School supports a philosophy which includes the acquisition and development of two languages: American Sign Language (ASL) and English. The curriculum parallels that of any regular public school program with modifications made to meet the communication needs of deaf and hard of hearing children. Culinary, physical education, and computer instruction are an integral part of the curriculum for all students. PDSD has the only comprehensive secondary program designed exclusively for deaf and hard of hearing children in the Phoenix area. Advanced vocational and career preparation programs are available to high school students through Metro Tech and the East Valley Institute of Technology. Completion of the academic/vocational course of study or the college preparatory course of study leads to the Arizona high school diploma.


Sequoia School for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing 

Sequoia School for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (SSDHH) is a public charter school located at 1460 South Horne in Mesa. SSDHH serve Kindergarten through 12th grades on campus.  Since 1998, Sequoia School for the Deaf and Hard of Hearings (SSDHH) has been on a mission of educating K-12 Deaf and hard of hearing students and enabling them to attend college, play sports, reach out to the community and become well rounded and well educated adults.

SSDHH offers a bilingual/bicultural education.  Our students learn both American Sign Language (ASL) and written English.  They learn the history of both the hearing and Deaf cultures.  SSDHH provides students with Deaf role models and encourage community involvement.  In addition, SSDHH offers students the resources they need to jump start their college education. SSDHH’s unique bilingual-bicultural approach to Deaf education empowers students with the knowledge that they can do anything and everything except hear.

Sharing a campus with hearing schools is also an integral part of the educational philosophy at SSDHH. Deaf students take some classes with their hearing peers to enhance their comfort and knowledge of both the hearing and deaf cultures.

At the Horne campus there are a total of five charter schools that share the facilities and provide a powerhouse of resources and education options to our students.


KASL Academy 

KASL Academy is a school of faith. Faith that your child is more than their label.  Faith that your child can learn and excel. Faith that every child is made by his or her Creator for a purpose. Faith that every child graduating will someday be a leader. A leader in their country, community, or home.

KASL Academy for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing is Arizona's only private, nonprofit K-8 school serving the DHH population. Currently located at 10330 N Cotton Lane, Waddell, Arizona 85379- just off Highway 303 and Peoria Ave. Plans for expanding a pre-school, High School, and into Tucson are already underway for 2014 and beyond.


March 24 - 28:  Important Deaf History Events


George W. Veditz:  The Preservation of Sign Language




Deaf Mosaic #402 – DPN (video)

 This episode of the Emmy-winning TV series, filmed in 1988, is devoted entirely to the DEAF PRESIDENT NOW movement. Interviews with participants and leaders are included in the extensive footage shot during the protest itself, ending with shots of the celebration that capped the successful close of the DPN protest at Gallaudet. Hosted by Gil Eastman and Mary Lou Novitsky.

 DPN25DPN and the Struggle for Deaf Control at Gallaudet (Gallaudet video)


Gallaudet University (GU)

Gallaudet University, the world's only university with programs and services specifically designed to accommodate deaf and hard of hearing students, was established in 1864 by an Act of Congress, and its charter was signed by President Abraham Lincoln.

 Gallaudet University is a bilingual, diverse, multicultural institution of higher education that ensures the intellectual and professional advancement of deaf and hard of hearing individuals through American Sign Language and English. Gallaudet maintains a proud tradition of research and scholarly activity and prepares its graduates for career opportunities in a highly competitive, technological, and rapidly changing world.

 The Vision of Gallaudet is to:

•Provide the highest quality liberal and professional education through undergraduate and graduate programs for deaf, hard of hearing, and hearing students.

•Offer a welcoming, supportive, and accessible bilingual educational environment for teaching and learning through direct communication.

•Embrace diversity within the University community by respecting and appreciating choices of communication while guiding students through their process of linguistic and cultural self-actualization.

•Pursue excellence in research, pedagogy, scholarship, and creative activity.

•Lead the advancement of intellectual, social, linguistic, and economic vitality in deaf people through educational, outreach, regional, international, and leadership development programs.

•Preserve deaf history and use visual media to promote the recognition that deaf people and their signed languages are vast resources with significant contributions to the cognitive, creative, and cultural dimensions of human diversity.

•Position our community to reach its full human potential and assume its role as a progressive global entity committed to civic responsibility and social justice.


DPN – Deaf President Now 1988

 In March 1988, Gallaudet University experienced a watershed event that led to the appointment of the 124-year-old university's first deaf president. Since then, Deaf President Now (DPN) has become synonymous with self-determination and empowerment for deaf and hard of hearing people everywhere.

 In 1988, Gallaudet University was the site of a student-led protest that today is called Deaf President Now, or simply, DPN. But DPN was more than a protest. It also was a unique coming together of Gallaudet students, faculty and staff with the national deaf community—all bound by clear and defined goals.

 The DPN supporters believed that the time had come for a deaf person to run the world's only university for deaf and hard of hearing students. When this didn't happen, the result was a protest whose effects are still reverberating around the world today.

 DPN was remarkable not only for its clear sense of purpose, cohesiveness, speed, and depth of feeling, but also for its ability to remove the barriers and erase the lines that previously separated the deaf and hearing communities. In addition, it raised the nation's consciousness of the rights and abilities of deaf and hard of hearing people.

 March 1, 1988 was a crucial date in the history of DPN. It was the day of the first fully organized rally, the event that inspired many students to join the movement. For some, it was the first time they had even learned what the protest was all about and what it would mean for them to have a deaf president. In their flyers, organizers likened the protest to a civil rights movement, drawing parallels between the deaf community and other minority groups.

 More than 1,000 University students, elementary and high school students from the University's Pre-College Programs, staff, faculty, alumni, and members from the local deaf community participated in the rally. It was a traveling rally, moving from the football field, to the elementary school, the largest classroom building, president's home, and ending at the statue of the first president of the University, Edward Miner Gallaudet. Those in attendance were treated to motivating and mobilizing speeches by various deaf leaders.

 During the next four days, a flurry of activity occurred. Students began camping out in tents on the lawn of the president's home, the president of the Student Body Government, Greg Hlibok, wrote Zinser a letter asking her to withdraw her candidacy, and the NAD and the GUAA sent information out to their constituents about the successful rally. Also, a television reporter and crew arrived on campus after learning about the students camping out and about the several hundred students who briefly blocked traffic on Florida Avenue, the main street that borders the south side of the campus.

 On Saturday, March 5, 1988, the Gallaudet Board of Trustees met at a hotel downtown to interview both Zinser and Jordan. Corson was interviewed on Sunday morning. The Board was scheduled to vote and announce their selection of the next president of the university at eight o'clock on Sunday evening. However, things didn't quite go as they had been planned...

 The spark that ignited DPN was the announcement on March 6, 1988, by the University's Board of Trustees that a hearing person had been selected as Gallaudet's seventh president. In the months—or by some accounts, the years—leading up this date, many in the deaf community and on campus had advocated for a deaf person to be named to the presidency. After all, by then there were more than 100 deaf people with doctorates, and many more that held administrative positions. Because of this, and because two of the three finalists for the position were deaf, many people were confident that the next president of Gallaudet would be a deaf person.

 However, in spite of all the evidence and support, the Board chose the lone hearing candidate, Elisabeth A. Zinser, who was then the assistant chancellor at the University of North Carolina, Greensboro. Unhappy with this decision, Gallaudet students, backed by a number of alumni, staff, and faculty, shut down the campus.

 The students and their backers then presented the Board of Trustees with four demands:

1. Elisabeth Zinser must resign and a deaf person selected president;

2. Jane Spilman must step down as chairperson of the Board of Trustees;

3. Deaf people must constitute a 51% majority on the Board; and

4. There would no reprisals against any student or employee involved in the protest.

By the end of the week, the students ended their protest and proclaimed victory. All of their demands had been met and Dr. I. King Jordan was named the Gallaudet's eighth—and first—deaf president.



March 17-21:  Deaf Organizations

National Association of the Deaf:  The Oldest Deaf Civil Rights Organization

 The National Association of the Deaf (NAD) is the oldest civil rights organization in the country given that it has been in continuous operation since 1880 with the mission of preserving, protecting, and promoting the civil, human and linguistic rights of all deaf and hard of hearing people in the United States. Recent stories on the Internet have however focused on two well-known entities laying claim to being the oldest civil rights organization in the United States: the NAACP and the National Rifle Association (NRA). 

 On its website, the NAACP makes the statement: “Founded in 1909, the NAACP is the nation's oldest and largest civil rights organization.”  The National Rifle Association (NRA), formed in 1871, states on its website that it “is America's longest-standing civil rights organization. We're proud defenders of history's patriots and diligent protectors of the Second Amendment.”

 According to the NRA website, its founder wrote in a magazine editorial that at its formation in 1871, “the primary goal of the association would be to ‘promote and encourage rifle shooting on a scientific basis.’” This goal remained for more than six decades until 1934 when “in response to repeated attacks on the Second Amendment rights, NRA formed its Legislative Affairs Division.” As a result, the NRA is older than the NAACP but did not engage in civil rights activities until after the formation of the NAACP. As a result, the NAACP is repeatedly referred to as the oldest civil rights organization in this country.

 However, the NAD began with its first national convention on August 25, 1880 with the intent of promoting the needs and rights of deaf people in the United States. Since that time, deaf and hard of hearing members of this organization have worked together to address barriers and injustices that their community experienced across the country. The organization formally adopted the name of “National Association of the Deaf” in 1889. This founding predates the NAACP by at least twenty years.

 The NAD continues today with its work to address challenges for the community in the areas of early intervention, education, employment, housing, technology, telecommunications, transportation, communication access, access to professional services, and much more.

 Since 1880, the NAD has helped advocate for the passage and renewal of various civil rights laws (as well as subsequent amendments) including: the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Television Decoder Circuitry Act, the Telecommunications Act provisions on accessibility, and the 21st Century Communication and Video Accessibility Act.  The NAD has since its founding sought to ensure that American Sign Language is recognized as a human and linguistic right for all deaf and hard of hearing people. In addition, the NAD has secured the rights of deaf and hard of hearing people to: marry one another, obtain governmental and private employment, drive cars and recently commercial vehicles, have communication access in all areas of life, have captioning access within various media, receive quality education from early childhood to higher education, and be treated as equals in society.

 The NAD collaborates with many other disability rights and civil rights organizations to achieve our collective goal of equality for all. Much work remains before such equality is attained, and the NAD welcomes all support in ensuring that every individual is treated equally.


Arizona Association of the Deaf (AZAD)

 Mission Statement:  This organization shall be organized and operated exclusively to promote the welfare of deaf and hard of hearing residents of the state of Arizona in education, economic, security, social equality, and just rights and privileges as citizens.


1912--Arizona State School for the Deaf founded in Tucson after the state of Arizona becomes the 48th state. The ASSD later was renamed Arizona School for the Deaf and the Blind (ASDB).

 1936--At the Arizona State School for the Deaf Reunion, ASSD alumni give birth to the Arizona Association of the Deaf's (AAD) concept, formulated under William Wherry.

 1940--First state convention is held in Tucson.

 1958--AAD was inactive during the War Years and re-organized during 1956-56. It was incorporated and recognized officially by the state of Arizona.

 1964--First state convention is held outside Tucson (Westward Ho Hotel in Phoenix).

 Mid 1970's--AAD initiated the concept and enlisted support of two other organizations in establishing the Arizona Council for the Hearing Impaired (ACHI), now called Arizona Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (ACDHH).

 Late 1970's--The first Relay Service for the Deaf with volunteers was developed by Rick Hall and Marion Edwards. The office of Vocational Rehabilitation donated space for the original relay facility. Arizona Deaf Assistance and Referral Agency (ADARA) volunteers provided the service.

 Early 1980's--Since the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Arizonans had to type with much slower word per minute with TTY's as compared to quicker vocal conversation, the long distance bill becomes too expensive, Arizona Association of the Deaf filed a petition with Arizona Corporation Commission for a discount on long distance TTY calls. AAD Coordinated this petition with the Arizona Center for Law in the Public Interest (now called Arizona Center for Disability Law). Expert witness testimony was provided by the Arizona Council for the Deaf and the National Center for Law and the Deaf.

1983--Arizona Association of the Deaf joined with local organizations in National Protest Day against a national network for refusing to close caption television programs.

1993--The initial name of AAD was changed to AzAD to reduce the confusion with three other states that start with "A" (Alabama, Alaska and Arkansas) and American Athletic Association of the Deaf (AAAD).

1996--First AzAD state convention is held outside of the Tucson and Phoenix metropolitan areas

1998--First tax exemption 501 (c) 3 tax status) approved by IRS and adopted new Article of Incorporation, Bylaws that is almost similar to NAD Bylaws designed by Dick Babb.

2006 – Partnered with Arizona Commission for the Deaf and the Hard of Hearing (ACDHH) in establishing the first Arizona Deaf Festival.   AZAD continued the tradition in hosting Arizona Deaf Festival annually. 



March 13

Celebrate Deaf History Month: March 13-April 15, 2014

The National Association of the Deaf (NAD) urges everyone to recognize and celebrate March 13 - April 15 as National Deaf History Month. This month includes three key moments in American History for the Deaf community: the March 13, 1988 Deaf President Now protest, the April 8, 1864 signing of the Gallaudet University charter by President Abraham Lincoln, and the April 15, 1817 establishment of American School for the Deaf in Hartford, CT as the first permanent public school for the deaf.

Each of these seminal events represents significant advancements for deaf and hard of hearing people in the United States. The establishment of the American School for the Deaf was the beginning of a long proud tradition of schools for the deaf in this country, which continues to this day. Preservation of these schools is of paramount importance to the community. Gallaudet University is a central icon within the community, representing the only university in the world that is solely for deaf and hard of hearing students. March 13 represents the day that the deaf community seized its fate during the Gallaudet University “Deaf President Now” movement when Gallaudet selected its first Deaf President. We declared that never again would we not be allowed to lead ourselves.

In 2006, the American Library Association (ALA) and the NAD announced that March 13 to April 15 is National Deaf History Month, thanks to the efforts of Alice Hagemeyer. The NAD, with her guidance, has consistently encouraged state and local deaf-related organizations to collaborate with local libraries, state governors, county executives and mayors to recognize this month.

"Please join us and celebrate the amazing achievements of our predecessors who advanced our civil, human, and linguistic rights throughout our country's history during Deaf History Month," said President Bobbie Beth Scoggins. "The NAD urges the United States government and states as well as local organizations and libraries to officially recognize Deaf History month to bring awareness and appreciation of deaf culture, heritage and American Sign Language to the general public.

The NAD continues to work with Ms. Hagemeyer and the ALA to ensure that there is a Proclamation of National Deaf History Month through the White House and/or the U.S. Congress.

Source URL: 


February 26, 2014

ACDHH regrets that we could not caption the video due to some technical issues.  we have transcript the interview so please click below for transcript of interview.

Transcript of interview with Albert Couthen


February 18, 2014

National Black Deaf Advocates (NBDA)

The National Black Deaf Advocates (NBDA) is the official advocacy organization for thousands of Black Deaf and hard of hearing people in the United States. Black deaf leaders were concerned that Black Deaf and hard of hearing Americans are not adequately represented in leadership and policy decision-making activities affecting their lives so they established NBDA in 1982.


The Mission of the National Black Deaf Advocates is to promote the leadership development, economic and educational opportunities, social equality, and to safeguard the general health and welfare of Black deaf and hard of hearing people.

History Overview

In 1980, a small group of local Black deaf people in the District of Columbia met with the Board of the Deaf Pride, an advocacy organization for the deaf, and expressed their concerns about the problems that prevent Black deaf from achieving their potential and the lack of leadership in the Black deaf community nationwide. Goals were developed and other skills that were usually ignored. The Black deaf group wanted to have an organization where they could promote leadership as well as share experiences, ideas, talents, and hopes. In July of 1980, the National Association of the Deaf (NAD) held their 100th anniversary convention in Cincinnati, Ohio, where a Black Deaf Caucus was formed. The Black Deaf Caucus members in attendance brought up the issues of the NAD's refusal to address the concerns of the black deaf community, as well as the lack of representation as delegates of the NAD. Caucus member Sandi LaRue issued a statement to the convention attendees that NAD must take action to communicate better with the black deaf community; encourage minorities’ involvement in the national and state organizations; and recruit more black deaf children in the Junior NAD and youth leadership camp. 

In August of 1980, Charles “Chuck” V. Williams (of Ohio) had arrived in D.C. preparing to file a class action suit against the National Democratic and Republican Conventions for their refusal to televise a Sign Language interpreter for linguistic accessibility throughout the proceedings. Charles received an invitation to work with a local Black Deaf committee to plan a mini-conference by, for, and about black deaf experience. The first planning meeting in November saw Charles meeting with Lottie Crook (chair), Linwood Smith (vice chair), Zoe E. Page Collymore, Ernest Hairston, Williard Shorter, Shirley Johnson (interpreter coordinator), and Robert Howard (trainer/consultant). Philip Armstrong designed the original logo of black hands in its “ADVOCACY” sign position. The name “advocates” signaled the members’ interest to challenge the disappointing reality for betterment. 

The first Black Deaf Conference “Black Deaf Experience” was held on June 25-26, 1981 at Howard University in Washington, District of Columbia. The conference marked an important milestone and provided a model for others to emulate. Nearly 100 Black Deaf people attended the first preliminary conference. Based on the accounts, the mini-conference was a phenomenal success, enough to cement the idea that there should be another conference. The objectives of the conference were:

  • To better inform ourselves and the community about being both Black and Deaf in America
  • To identify and examine the social, economical, educational, religious, political, and health issues and their impact on the Black deaf community
  • To formulate some strategies and problem solving techniques that participants can take back to their communities and use.

 The conference’s workshops held over the two days involved six major areas: Education, Family, Social Services, Health and Mental Health, Employment, and Interpreting.

The First National Conference was held in Cleveland, Ohio on August 13-15, 1982, in the heart of downtown Stouffers Inn on the Square. The conference theme “Black Deaf Strength Through Awareness” drew 300 participants. Topics were related to Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Mental Health, Substance Abuse, Social Services, and Hearing Parents with deaf children. Charles “Chuck” V. Williams served as the conference chairperson. The debate was held as to whether to a national organization should be formed. The motion to declare the First National Conference a National organization passed. 

The new organization National Black Deaf Advocates (NBDA) was officially formed. The six founding members were instrumental in establishing NBDA: Lottie Crook, Ernest Hairston, Williard Shorter, Linwood Smith, Charles “Chuck” V. Williams, and Elizabeth “Ann” Wilson. The national executive secretary Albert Couthen was elected to coordinate the efforts to form a national office. 

New Chapters established:District of Columbia Area Black Deaf Advocates became the first affiliated chapter, followed by Cleveland as the second chapter, and Philadelphia as the third chapter. 

In 1983, the second National Conference, “Our Place In The Society”, was held in Philadelphia, PA.  The conference marked the first beauty pageant for Black Deaf women. Ronnie Mae Tyson was crowned the first Miss Black Deaf America. 

The National Bylaws were then developed with the input of the original 4 NBDA chapters: Washington DC, Cleveland, Philadelphia, and New York City. Various positions for officers were established. Organizational structure, policy, procedures, and guidelines were established.

NBDA National Conference would occur annually until 2005 as it was decided in 2004 to implement the regional system which grouped chapters under five regionals, giving them opportunities to host regional conferences during the even years.  NBDA National Conference would continue every other year on the odd years. The purpose of this would also helpreduce the ever-growing number of board of representatives, allowing NBDA to function more streamlined and focus more on long-term projects. 


The 5th Biennial Regional Conferences will be held at the following regions and cities:

  • Eastern Regional Conference – New York City, NY
  • Midwestern Regional Conference – Indianapolis, IN
  • Southern Regional Conference – Memphis, TN
  • Southwestern Regional Conference – Houston, TX



The 27th National Conference will be held in Louisville, KY.


More Notable History About NBDA

  • The first NBDA Conference was held in Cleveland, OH in 1982
  • South Carolina BDA became the first chapter with state name
  • Virgin Island BDA is the only chapter not located in USA mainland
  • Tennessee was the first state to hold two BDA chapters
  • NBDA has held conference outside USA twice. 1993 in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands and 1999 in Jamaica.


First Five Local BDA Chapters Established

  • District of Columbia Area Black Deaf Advocates, 1981
  • Cleveland Black Deaf Advocates, 1982
  • Philadelphia Chapter of Black Deaf Advocates, 1982
  • New York City Black Deaf Advocates, 1983
  • Atlanta Black Deaf Advocates, 1984


Six Founding Members of NBDA

  • Dr. Ernest Hairston
  • Linwood Smith
  • Charles Williams
  • Ann Wilson
  • Lottie Cook
  • Willard Shorter


February 14, 2014

Schools and History of education for the Black Deaf:

When schools were segregated years ago, schools for the deaf followed suit. For over 100 years, black deaf children attended separate educational programs, housed either on separate campuses or in separate buildings on the same campus as the school for the deaf. This separation led to the development of a black dialect of American Sign Language, similar in nature to "black English."

When schools for the deaf became integrated, these separate buildings and campuses were either closed or incorporated into the rest of the school. Over time, the black dialect of ASL died out as the black deaf children were no longer separated from the white deaf children. Fortunately, the memories of this experience have been preserved in books such as Sounds Like Home. This segregation was encouraged by the National Association of the Deaf, which in 1904 recommended the establishment of separate schools for black deaf children.

This segregation meant that black deaf teachers were able to get jobs teaching in the separate programs. The programs produced the first black deaf teachers, Julius Carrett and Amanda Johnson, both of whom graduated from the North Carolina program for black deaf, and H.L. Johns, who was a graduate of the Maryland program for black deaf. All three were hired by the Texas Institute for Deaf, Dumb and Blind Colored Youth.

 What follows is a listing of some of the segregated schools:

  • Alabama - School for Negro Deaf-Mutes and Blind (1891).
  • District of Columbia - The Kendall School at Gallaudet did not take in black deaf students until 1952, when ordered to by a court (before that the deaf black students attended school in Maryland). The story of the fight to get Kendall to take in DC black deaf students was documented in the film "Class of '52." Kendall then set up a separate building, but the segregation was brief as in 1954 the historic Supreme Court ruling on integration meant that Kendall had to become integrated.
  • Florida - Florida Institute for the Blind, Deaf and Dumb Colored Department (1895).
  • Georgia - Georgia School for the Negro Deaf (1882).
  • Kentucky - Kentucky had a school for the colored deaf. The Kentucky Standard newsletter of the Kentucky School for the Deaf, vol.130, Spring 2003 had a brief article on the history of the colored school (1885 to 1950s).
  • Louisiana - Louisiana School for the Deaf stayed segregated as late as 1978, being the last school for the deaf to become integrated. The black deaf Louisiana school was the Louisiana School for the Colored Deaf and Blind.
  • Maryland - School for the Colored Deaf and Blind (Maryland Institution for the Colored Blind and Deaf-Mutes) (1872).
  • North Carolina - North Carolina School for Colored Deaf and Blind (1869) - first school for deaf black children. The state established a Colored Department. One of the department's graduates, Roger D. O'Kelly, became a lawyer and he was profiled in the old Silent Worker, Volume 139, No.6. The article about Kelly, "The Only Negro Deaf - Mute Lawyer in the United States," can be viewed online at
  • Oklahoma - Oklahoma Industrial Institution for the Deaf, Blind, and Orphans of the Colored Race.
  • South Carolina - South Carolina Institution for the Education of the Deaf and Dumb and the Blind, Colored Department.
  • Tennessee - James Mason (black, hearing) established a school for black deaf, the Tennessee School for the Colored Deaf and Dumb.
  • Texas - Texas Institute for Deaf, Mute, and Blind Colored Youth (1887). William Holland, a former hearing slave who pushed for the establishment of a school for colored deaf, became its first superintendent in 1887.
  • Virginia - Virginia School for Colored Deaf and Blind Children (1909).
  • West Virgina - West Virginia School for the Colored Deaf and Blind (1919). One of the best-known deaf African Americans, Ernest Hairston, had attended this school just before it became integrated. Ancella Bickley also wrote a book, In Spite of Obstacles: A History of the West Virginia Schools for the Colored Deaf and Blind, 1926-1955. It was published by the West Virginia University Press in 2001, and appears to be out of print and VERY hard to find.


Gannon, Jack R., Deaf Heritage, National Association of the Deaf, 1981, p.3.

Paddon, Carol, and Humphries, Tom L. Inside Deaf Culture, Harvard University Press, 2005, pp. 50-54.

Hairston, Ernest, and Smith, Linwood. Black and Deaf in America: Are We That Different, T.J. Publishers, Inc., 1983.


February 11, 2013

Deaf African-American Organization

The first and best resource is the organization National Black Deaf Advocates (NBDA).  The NBDA holds annual conferences and has chapters nationwide. Another organization, the National Alliance of Black Interpreters is for African-American interpreters for Deaf and hard of hearing people.

The NBDA Archives Program aims to preserve and protect Black Deaf history. Black Deaf history has long been neglected. While there have been numerous books, films and articles on Deaf life, few have focused on the experiences of Black Deaf Americans. By learning more about the history and experience of Black Deaf people, all people will gain a better understanding of the diverse nature of American history. NBDA firmly believes that preservation and sharing of the Black Deaf experience both within the community and with persons of other races can only help to promote greater tolerance and understanding.

NBDA Archives Committee works in conjunction with Gallaudet University Archives Library to further develop the NBDA Archives program.

Currently NBDA history covers the following:

  • History of National Black Deaf Advocates
  • History of NBDA Executive Board
  • NBDA National & Regional Conference Chronology
  • Former Miss Black Deaf American Winners
  • Former Collegiate Black Deaf Leadership Institute Participants
  • Former Youth Empowerment Summit Participants & Peer Advisors

For more information on National Black Deaf Advocates, go to:

National Alliance of Black Interpreters


February 7, 2013

Black Deaf History

Deaf African-American people have always faced the identity issue of whether they are black first or deaf first.

For many of African American deaf, their deafness comes secondary to their racial ethnic background. In a small sample of Deaf African Americans in Washington DC, 78% identified themselves as black before identifying their deafness. (Lane, 1996).  Although their identity is mostly shaped historically with the African American community, the Black Deaf community also has their own history that began in the mid-nineteenth century when segregated special residential school for the 'colored' d/Deaf children were created. (Lane, 1996, Aramburo, 1990)   It was in these settings that a black dialect of ASL developed. (Lane, 1996)

For many hearing African Americans, they do not come in contact with the d/Deaf individuals of any race, but especially Deaf African Americans. (Valentine, 1996)  There is also quite a bit of racism amongst Deaf people and their community. There are racically segregated clubs in the Deaf community. (Lane, 1996,  Padden 1988,  Aramburo, 1990)  The Deaf African American is a minority within a minority and are significant part of the African American heritage, the Deaf heritage, and the Black Deaf tradition. (Lane, 1996)

Being d/Deaf, in society, one's racial background is important and judgments are made based on race. It is also important to know that for many Deaf African Americans, they are misunderstood or discriminated by both the Deaf community and the African American community.  You would think that because people of the Deaf community are part of a minority group, they would be more compassionate and understanding of people who are different, but that does not seem to be the case. The reality is, the Deaf community is a microcosm of society as a whole, which is struggling with racism and its existence.

Having knowledge of how Black Deaf individuals feels, may provide a sensitivity and cultural awareness of Deaf African Americans. There should be a consciousness of the importance of both their racial background and their d/Deafness.


For more resources on Black Deaf African American, click on link below:



February 3, 2013:

Overview of Black History Month

Black History Month, or National African American History month, is an annual celebration of achievements by black Americans and a time for recognizing the central role of African Americans in U.S. history.  The event grew out of "Negro History Week", the brainchild of noted historian Carter G. Woodson and other prominent African Americans. Since 1976, every U.S. presidents has officially designated the month of February as Black History Month. Other countries around the world, including Canada and the United Kingdom, also devote a month to celebrating black history. 

Origins of Black History Month

The story of Black History Month begins in 1915, half a century after the Thirteenth Amendment abolished slavery in the United States. That September, the Harvard-trained historian Carter G. Woodson and the prominent minister Jesse E. Moorland founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH), an organization dedicated to researching and promoting achievements by black Americans and other peoples of African descent. Known today as the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH), the group sponsored a national Negro History week in 1926, choosing the second week of February to coincide with the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. The event inspired schools and communities nationwide to organize local celebrations, establish history clubs and host performances and lectures.

Negro History Week (1926)

The first Negro History Week was met with a lukewarm response, gaining the cooperation of the Departments of Education of the states of North Carolina, Delaware, and West Virginia as well as the city school administrations of Baltimore and Washington, D.C.   Despite this far from universal acceptance, the event was nevertheless regarded by Woodson as "one of the most fortunate steps ever taken by the Association," and plans for a repeat of the event on an annual basis continued apace.

At the time of Negro History Week's launch Woodson contended that the teaching of black history was essential to ensure the physical and intellectual survival of the race within broader society:

"If a race has no history, it has no worthwhile tradition, it becomes a negligible factor in the thought of the world, and it stands in danger of being exterminated. The American Indian left no continuous record. He did not appreciate the value of tradition; and where is he today? The Hebrew keenly appreciated the value of tradition, as is attested by the Bible itself. In spite of worldwide persecution, therefore, he is a great factor in our civilization."

By 1929 The Journal of Negro History was able to note that with only two exceptions officials with the State Departments of Educations of "every state with considerable Negro population" had made the event known to that state's teachers and distributed official literature associated with the event." Churches also played a significant role in the distribution of literature in association with Negro History Week during this initial interval, with the pages of the mainstream and black press aiding in the publicity effort.

Negro History Week was met with enthusiastic response; it prompted the creation of black history clubs, an increase in interest among teachers, and interest from progressive whites. Negro History Week grew in popularity throughout the following decades, with mayors across the United States endorsing it as a holiday.

By the late 1960s, thanks in part to the Civil Rights Movement and a growing awareness of black identity, Negro History Week had evolved into Black History Month on many college campuses.

Black History Month

The expansion of Black History Week to Black History Month was first proposed by the leaders of the Black United Students at Kent State University in February 1969. The first celebration of the Black History Month took place at Kent State one year later, in February 1970.

In 1976 as part of the United States Bicentennial, the informal expansion of Negro History Week to Black History Month was officially recognized by the U.S. government. President Gerald Ford spoke in regards to this, urging Americans to "seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history."

Since then, every American president has designated February as Black History Month and endorsed a specific theme. Last year theme in 2013 was: At the Crossroads of Freedom and Equality: The Emancipation Proclamation and the March on Washington which marked the 150th and 50th anniversaries of two pivotal events in African-American history. 

This year, 2014, marks the 50th anniversary of Civil Right Act which was passed in 1964 outlawing outlawed major forms of discrimination against racial, ethnic, national and religious minorities, and women. It ended unequal application of voter registration requirements and racial segregation in schools, at the workplace and by facilities that served the general public (known as "public accommodations").